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Chamber of Commerce Goes Squishy on Bush Plan to Cut Social Security Benefits

Newsweek: Senior officials at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which represents some of the nation’s biggest corporations, are now urging the White House to delay its Social Security reforms in favor of measures that would be easier to pass, such as tort reform and an energy bill. "A mandate lasts about 15 minutes in this town," Chamber president Tom Donohue says tartly. Instead Donohue wants Bush to "address the low-hanging fruit that’s already keyed up"—not the ambitious stuff that will require so much of the president’s political capital. While the organization does support a Social Security overhaul, Donohue said the president could better preserve his election momentum by pushing legislation that would have "a lot better chance of success."

The Chamber isn’t any old business lobby. It’s long been one of Bush’s biggest supporters in Washington. In the first half of 2004, alone, the group spent more than $20 million lobbying on some of the White House’s top agenda items, including changes in the tax code and medical liability reform. At the same time, Bush and other senior administration officials have tapped the Chamber as a friendly venue to deliver key speeches. In 2001, Bush kicked off his legislative push for tax cuts from the organization’s headquarters, while Vice President Dick Cheney has campaigned there for his energy policy. The White House downplays any notion of a rift with the Chamber. But it’s still awkward that Joshua Bolten, head of the Office of Management and Budget and one of Bush’s top economic advisers, is to campaign for Social Security reform at the Chamber on Friday.
The Chamber of Commerce invested a lot of money in the 2004 GOP, particularly in beating Daschle in South Dakota. They sensibly don't want to risk their return on investment.


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