In a January 1940 address broadcast by the BBC, British Prime Minister-to-be Winston Churchill said of countries that were remaining neutral nearly five months after Germany invaded Poland, setting off World War II: “Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last.”
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is learning that lesson the hard way after endorsing 23 freshman House Democrats for re-election in the 2020 cycle, over the objection of many of its own staff members and affiliates.
According to a lengthy account last week in The Washington Post, the endorsements were apparently a high-minded attempt to shed its long-standing reputation as an arm of the Republican Party (primarily the country-club wing) and to give itself a veneer of bipartisanship.
So, how did the 14 freshman House Democrats who subsequently won re-election with the Chamber’s imprimatur return the favor? By voting en bloc in favor of the radical Protecting the Right to Organize Act, which would make it infinitely easier for unions to organize workplaces.
Among many other things, the PRO Act would invalidate right-to-work labor laws in the 27 states that have them. The Chamber rightly criticized the bill — which passed the House on a near-party-line vote of 225 to 206 on March 9—as “a litany of almost every failed idea from the past 30 years of labor policy.” Without those 14 votes, the bill would have failed to pass.
The endorsements understandably raised both eyebrows and ire among some of the Chamber’s closest allies, to say nothing of congressional Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, California Republican, said he no longer wants the Chamber’s endorsement, while Sen. Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, derided it as a “front service for woke corporations.”
Simply put, the endorsements were an ill-advised “lose-lose” for the Chamber.
And if the PRO Act weren’t bad enough, the Democratic crocodiles (on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue) are chomping at the bit to raise from 21% to 28% the corporate income-tax rate, which would hurt the country’s competitiveness in world markets and increase offshoring, as well as to raise capital gains and other taxes.
As with the PRO Act, the only thing keeping those Democratic tax increases, along with reams of new regulatory red tape and unfunded mandates, from President Biden’s desk are Senate Republican filibusters.
The bottom line here, seemingly lost on the Chamber — for whom one would think the bottom line would be paramount — is that you can appease ravenous crocodiles only so long.