By Grace Aylmer, Public Citizen
This week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Small Business Summitin Washington, DC. The stated purpose of the three day event is to provide small businesses with tools and strategies “to successfully compete in today’s rapidly changing business environment.” While this sounds well and good, the Chamber unsurprisingly fails (yet again) to mention that its role as “the voice of small business” is really just a sham.
The Summit agenda consists of a multitude of panels, including “How to Get Your Company Thinking Like a Startup,” “Your State’s Lawsuit Climate and How It Affects Small Businesses,” and “How and Why Your Business Grows (or Doesn’t).” Sure, these panels sound innocent enough to someone who isn’t well-versed on the Chamber, but in reality—they hide the many times the Chamber has lobbied to stack the deck against small businesses. We’ve taken the liberty of renaming and reframing the Summit panels so that they are more honest about the Chamber’s relationship with small business:
Litigating Against Small Business for Beginners: Chamber vs. Main Street
Looking to keep consumers out of court? Hoping to sue a mom-and-pop shop? This panel is for you!
While the Chamber may claim to be the voice of small businesses in Washington, when it comes to litigation, it can be consistently relied upon to favor the huge corporations that fund it. Whether it’s arguing for reduced access to the courts, opposing stricter supervision of Wall Street banks designed to reduce the risk of future financial crises, fighting for Big Oil against emissions controls, or supporting Big Pharma’s schemes to keep drug prices sky high, the Chamber always comes down on the side of its deep-pocketed Big Business patrons, ignoring the impact on small businesses. In fact, in a report earlier this year, Chamber Watch found that the Chamber files a brief roughly every other day of the work week, and in almost 60 percent of cases, the Chamber supported at least one Fortune 500 company. In comparison, it supported a domestic small business only 7 percent of the time. In fact, it supported a foreign multinational twice as often as it did a domestic small business. Companies the Chamber litigated on behalf of included State Farm, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Allstate, Berkshire Hathaway, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, AIG, and JP Morgan Chase, ExxonMobil, Koch Industries, BP, PPL, and Shell, to name a few.
Regulations help Small Business? Deny Deny Deny 101
Have you heard the term “red tape” but aren’t sure how to work it into every day conversation? Stop by this lecture to hear from Chamber experts on their experience in denying that regulations actually help rather than hurt small businesses. This panel will equip you with all the tools you need to ignore the statistics that show small businesses support regulation and steer the conversation elsewhere. Did someone say red tape?
The Chamber has a long history of opposing regulations under the guise of being a voice for small business. From the overtime rule, to the Clean Water Rule to the Clean Power Plan, to the open internet rules (have we made our point?) it has yet to meet a regulation it didn’t want rolled back. According to a poll by Small Business Majority, 86 percent of small business owners agree some regulation of business is necessary for a modern economy, and 93 percent of them agree their business can live with some regulation if it is fair, manageable and reasonable. What’s more, 78 percent of small employers agree regulations are important in protecting small businesses from unfair competition and to level the playing field with big business. Another 79 percent of small business owners support having clean air and water in their community in order to keep their family, employees and customers healthy, and 61 percent support standards that move the country towards energy efficiency and clean energy.
Net Non-Neutrality: Even We Know We’re Wrong on This One
Are you an AT&T or Comcast employee who accidentally wandered into this Summit? You’re in the right place now!
The Chamber has conceded that the vast majority of Americans, support net neutrality. In fact, even smaller internet service providers (ISPs,) part of the small business community that the Chamber loves to claim to represent, support net neutrality regulations because they prevent larger competitors from gaining an unfair advantage. Proponents of net neutrality argue that by ensuring equal treatment of all internet content, companies compete on a level playing field and consumers are able to access whatever content they want without issue. Meanwhile, the Chamber and other opponents argue that net neutrality regulations limit incentives for ISPs to improve their networks. These critics argue that without charging companies to guarantee access to content, ISPs won’t have the money necessary to make these investments. In reality, investment in internet infrastructure has not decreased as a result of net neutrality regulations. That leaves only one constituency in favor of deregulation: giant telecom companies.
With its anti-small business record so clear, why does the Chamber still keep up its yearly sham? Apparently the “Big Business Summit” just doesn’t have the same ring…