The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently presented our congressman, Tom Reed, with its “Spirit of Enterprise” award. Reed has posted a photo of himself receiving the award from the Chamber’s president, Tom Donohue.
What is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce? It’s not easy to say exactly, since the organization is cagey about its membership and its donors. But we know enough about the Chamber to know what kind of company our congressman is keeping. We know that the chamber represents big business and the very wealthy. Wikipedia identifies Goldman Sachs, Chevron, and Texaco as members. The Koch brothers chip in, according to Talking Points Memo.
The Chamber spent $136 million on Washington lobbying in 2012, and $80 million in 2010 to support Republican candidates with campaign ads that attacked Democrats. The chamber has led the charge in support of the Keystone pipeline and against the Affordable Care Act. Apple left the organization in 2009 because of the Chamber’s opposition to legislation aimed at reducing greenhouse gases.
Donohue, according to the New York Times, “zips around town in a chauffeured Lincoln and flies around the globe in leased private jets. His salary, $4.9 million in 2011, makes him the second-highest-paid trade association chief in Washington ….”
Last week, Charles M. Blow of the New York Times pointed to a shocking new finding by the International Monetary Fund. “In the United States, the share of market income captured by the richest 10 percent surged from around 30 percent in 1980 to 48 percent by 2012, while the share of the richest 1 percent increased from 8 percent to 19 percent. Even more striking is the fourfold increase in the income share of the richest 0.1 percent, from 2.6 percent to 10.4 percent.” (Market income is the sum of all earnings in the economy, including earnings from employment, investments, and retirement benefits.)
Just imagine — .1 per cent of Americans rake in more than 10 per cent of the income. Rep. Reed seems to enjoy receiving the accolades of this .1 per cent. He even brags about it.