- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 1, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

“Over the last 10 years, the Chamber of Commerce alone spent nearly half a billion dollars on lobbying - half a billion dollars,” blustered President Obama on Oct. 9. The faux outrage exposes some false piety.

Over that time, the powerful chamber used its money to do such dastardly deeds as keeping its members informed about new government regulations, spending money on advertising, putting studies together and letting politicians know how legislation will impact businesses.

Nearly half a billion dollars over 10 years is just $50 million per year. Depending on how you count the chamber’s membership, that comes to something between less than the cost of a couple of movie tickets and a Wall Street Journal subscription per member per year to help protect companies against what they surely see as expensive, often counterproductive, job-destroying regulations.

If the president thinks $50 million a year is an outrage, he needs to look in the mirror. Last year alone, Mr. Obama’s campaign for president raised $524 million. It raised $750 million for the entire campaign. Mr. Obama will rightfully claim that this money was needed to organize and inform his supporters, advertise, build a staff and develop a plan to govern. The democratic process does cost money, about $8.60 per vote in the primary and general elections.

But Democrats are not the only ones who have the right to organize. Businesses, their owners and workers have exactly the same right to join together to have their voices heard.

Indeed, the president is perfectly happy when he benefits from businesses and workers organizing themselves politically. Mr. Obama surely isn’t upset by the $150 million to $200 million pharmaceutical companies are spending to help push the president’s health care plan - an effort his administration helped engineer. There is no surprise that Mr. Obama is silent on all the money spent by his union allies. Big Labor’s total output towers over the chamber’s respectable effort.

If Mr. Obama seeks the support of America’s job-creating businesses, he might try listening to them and even changing some of his policies to meet their concerns. Attempting to demonize them and silence their representatives in Washington will only make him look like a hypocritical bully.

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