Our focus at CAP is almost exclusively related to state politics, but occasionally something pops up at the federal level that is worth highlighting. Case in point, the US Chamber of Commerce just endorsed twenty-three freshman Democratic members of Congress. These Congresspeople represent districts that President Trump won in 2016, and they’ll be involved in some of the most competitive congressional races in the country this November. The endorsements represent the largest number of Democratic members that the Chamber has endorsed in decades.
We took a look at the candidates who received endorsements to see what their records look like, and it was as disappointing as you’d imagine. The measuring stick we used was the Club for Growth’s scorecard. Similar to CAP, the Club for Growth almost exclusively focuses on economic issues at the federal level, and that made their scorecard the best tool for us to use in this instance.
On average, the endorsed Democrats scored under 17 percent on the Club’s scorecard. It is hard to overstate just how poorly these folks have voted. While this may come as a shock to many people, it isn’t surprising. The US Chamber of Commerce consistently backs policies that are anti-free market, and anti-consumer. They have been one of the loudest voices, for years, in favor of increasing the federal gasoline tax. The Pennsylvania Chamber was largely responsible for Gov. Corbett’s push to increase gas taxes in the Commonwealth to the highest in the nation.
And, they don’t just support higher gas taxes. The national chamber and state-level Chambers of Commerce frequently support additional regulations, licensing requirements, and all manner of corporate welfare. At first blush, this might be a surprise. However, it is important to remember that larger, frequently publicly-traded, corporations benefit from the roadblocks that government erects. Bigger companies have the ability to absorb the costs of compliance and have the lobbying muscle to ensure that taxpayers bail them out when needed.
If you are a business owner and a member of a local, or state chamber of commerce it’s time to start asking why you’re continuing to pay their dues. How much of that local and state support is going to support policies that hurt you and your customers? The best way for small business owners and entrepreneurs to preserve free-market capitalism is to get elected to office in greater numbers. When we look at our allies in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, the most effective change agents are the folks who know what it is like to run a business. The people who have had to deal with the alphabet soup of government agencies are the most likely to try to reduce regulatory burdens for everyone; not just the mega-corporations who can afford to lobby for exemptions.