Chamber of Commerce No Longer “Represents” 3 Million Businesses

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Late last month, for the first time in more than a decade, the US Chamber of Commerce changed the boilerplate language that appears at the bottom of its press releases. The nation’s largest business lobby no longer claims to be “representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.” Instead, it claims to be “representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses” (emphasis added). The smallness of the tweak masks its major significance: Representing somebody, which strongly implies a direct relationship, is very different from representing their interests. The Chamber is in effect acknowleging that the “3 million” businesses aren’t actually its members.

Since I began drawing attention to the Chamber’s inflated membership claims late last year, it has been under heavy fire from reporters and activists for routinely misrepresenting its true size. It was forced to admit that its true membership isn’t the 3 million businesses that it has claimed, but something on the order of 300,000. The New York Times and other large publications began using the smaller number in their stories. And yet the Chamber’s press releases went conspicuously unchanged.

Unfortunately, the Chamber’s belated move to correct the record just further muddies the waters. It still doesn’t explain exactly who these “3 million businesses” are. And its new claim to speak for their “interests” (when there are only about 5 million US businesses with payroll) is deeply disingenuous given its staunch opposition to just about every item on the Democratic political agenda. It would be more accurate to say that the Chamber “represents the interests of a small number of big-business donors that profit from polluting the environment and exploiting their workers.” But that has a different ring, doesn’t it?

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Fact:

In-depth journalism that investigates the powerful takes real money and is so damn important right now.But it doesn’t take a Mother Jones investigation to know that billionaires and corporations will never fund the type of reporting (like they do politicians) we do that exists to help bring about change. Instead, our mission-driven journalism is made possible by people power, and has been for 46 years now since our founding as a non-profit.

In “TITLE TK” Monica Bauerlein writes about the perilous moment we’re in, and why it’s so important that we raise $325,000 by the time November’s midterms are decided so we can be ready to throw everything we have at the big issues facing the nation no matter what happens. Please help MoJo’s people-powered journalism with a donation today.

$400,000 to go!

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