Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 18, 2010

U.S. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND THE GOP, SITTIN' IN A TREE.... The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is spending tens of millions of dollars to buy midterm elections for far-right Republican candidates. As if that weren't enough, the business lobby is using undisclosed contributions. And as if that weren't enough, some of the financing for these ads may have come from foreign corporations and foreign governments.

But just to add insult to injury, the Chamber's pro-GOP ads also happen to mislead the public. Greg Sargent had this report today on the Chamber's ads targeting House Democrats:

These Chamber ads, which are running or have run in multiple districts across the country, contain many claims that are demonstrable distortions or have been repeatedly debunked as false by independent fact-checkers.

This is the side of this story that continues to unfold under the media radar. Much of the media focus has been on the high-profile Beltway spat between these groups and the White House and Dems over their undisclosed donors. But the ads themselves are not receiving anywhere near the high-profile media scrutiny that Dem claims about the Chamber have -- even though they constitute a massive national campaign flooding airwaves in multiple races that could tip the balance of power in Congress.

Greg's analysis is worth checking out in full, because the demonstrably-false claims featured in the Chamber's ads -- including some arguments that were debunked months ago -- are the same claims that may very well mislead voters and sway election outcomes.

What's also interesting, though, was the Chamber's response to the fact-checking. The business lobby put together a fairly detailed rebuttal, which Greg also posted.

But as rebuttals go, the Chamber of Commerce's retort seems to create as many problems as it resolves. Not only does it rehash tired and misguided Republican talking points, but it relies heavily on a report commissioned by House Republicans.

In other words, the Chamber (a) is airing misleading attack ads in order to help Republicans; and (b) relying on Republicans to defend themselves against evidence that the attacks are misleading.

The Chamber is effectively arguing, "See? The ads we're airing on behalf of Republicans are accurate -- because Republicans say so."

The thinly-veiled pretense of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce being "independent" and "non-partisan" has all but disappeared.

Steve Benen 4:15 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (7)

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Isn't the Chamber a non-profit? Aren't non-profits supposed to be apolitical? Don't churches that push political views on their members and actively campaign for a political position at risk of losing their tax exempt status? Lobbyists are obviously for profit, but a quick search turns up articles about non-profit Chamber of Commerce branches. If you call a local CoC and complain, they will say the "national" office is running the ad. Is the "national" office separate and for profit as a lobbying group? Do Dems have the gumption to challenge this and fight back?

Posted by: SF on October 18, 2010 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Whether there are actual foreign donations or not may not be the most damning point in all this. What is really galling is how the Chamber is deciding unilaterally that the interests of business supersede that of the nation, its various cities and states and workers. It used to be that we didn't make these distinctions. It was assumed that what was good for General Motors was good for the country. Well, you can't assume that anymore. Corporate interests have been filleted and artfully separated from the nations they reside in. The right has yet to pay any price, of course, for giving corporate tax breaks for offshoring jobs. And yokels will doubtlessly swallow the advertising swill the Chambers buys. But they will buy something that is often directly inimical to not only their self-interest but that of the nation they purport to love.

Posted by: walt on October 18, 2010 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

A vote for Miller is a vote for the local jack-booted militia! The allegiance to whom will be the only thing left to question! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on October 18, 2010 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

The reason demonstrably mendacious ads attacking Democrats have not been scrutinized by the media is because the media is on the same side as the Chamber of Commerce and the Repugnicans. For two years now, the MSM has done everything it can to denigrate Obama and lift up even the most odious Republican party hack. This is the reason Newt Gingrich gets to make the cable rounds everytime he farts out loud and why John "I've gladly lost any principle I might have once had" McCain is the go-to pol on the Sunday morning talking heads shows.

Posted by: davidm48 on October 18, 2010 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP's tenuous grip on logic seems to be based upon the following statement:

"A supposition based on a supposition cannot be refuted".

For instance, "God made the moon, therefore God exists".

Or, "Republicans have never increased the deficit, therefore Republicans are fiscal conservatives". Bwah hah hah! And if you believe that, I can get you a great deal on the Brooklyn Bridge.

Posted by: Kiweagle on October 18, 2010 at 6:03 PM | PERMALINK

Not only does it rehash tired and misguided Republican talking points, but it relies heavily on a report commissioned by House Republicans.

Not only does it rely on a report commissioned by House Republicans, that report was on the House version of the bill in November 2009, which was abandoned in order to pass the Senate version in December 2009, followed by the "fixes" to the bill passed in March 2010. Any resemblance between the Chamber's cited report and the actual bill is absolutely coincidental.

Posted by: Daddy Love on October 18, 2010 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Just because Citizen's United gave corporations the right to shovel busloads of money into political races, based on the premise of "free speech", doesn't mean they have the right to lie and deliberately obfuscate the truth to potential voters. They need to be held accountable for this.

Posted by: Patrick Star on October 19, 2010 at 12:10 AM | PERMALINK



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