Antiqualified versus Incompetent

I've done some research in the extreme right business coalition groups, including looking into the monster that is the United States Chamber of Commerce and its President, Tom Donahue.  Donahue is a deeply unethical and paranoid individual, with companies he helps govern as a board member caught for dangerous safety violations.  Most recently, he was lobbying to weaken Sarbanes-Oxley shareholder protections while selling shares in a company he's a board member of prior to the release of damaging information.  Donahue's Chamber is part of the 'gang of 6 trade associations' that "are considered the president's most reliable supporters. They include the Business Roundtable, the National Association of Manufacturers, the National Restaurant Association, NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses) and NAW (National Association of Wholesalers-Distributors)."

These are very dangerous groups and they operate effectively in both Republican and Democratic majority environments.  The National Restaurant Association, for instance, was recently the main roadblock to the minimum wage increase and was able to secure business tax breaks.  The NFIB was behind the crushing health care plan debacle in 1993, and the Business Roundtable was behind NAFTA.  The Chamber and NAM are adamently against consumer protection laws.  And that's not all.  Go peruse the issue page on NAM's website.  It's against anything but voluntary action on global warming, anti-union, against universal health care, against the Family Medical Leave Act, viciously antitax and for pro-corporate trade agreements.  It's as wingnutty as they come, and not particularly representative of manufacturers, who don't necessarily like having to move all their operations to China.

Anyway, I say this because working for or supporting any of these groups should be considered a political mark of shame.  My new favorite website, the Consumerist, tells of how NAM's Vice President Michael Baroody has been nominated to become the head of the Consumer Product Safety Division.  Baroody is patently unqualified, having no background in consumer safety and coming from a business coalition hostile to consumer rights.  His career is entirely political; he served in the Reagan administration, and went back and forth from Republican Party positions to business PAC/lobbying.

I found this piece of his bio interesting: "He was research director and later director of public affairs at the Republican National Committee from 1977 to 1980, where he also served as Editor-in-Chief of the 1980 Republican Platform." This was a pivotal time for the emergence of the Republican coalition, when they learned how to work business groups against Democrats and turn business political culture to become paranoid and extremist.

Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post wrote about Baroody a few weeks ago, pointing out out that NAM successfully lobbied "against a petition to require makers of cribs, strollers and similar items to include registration cards with their products to be able to help notify consumers in a recall." Consumer groups are outraged, of course.  What's nice is that now with a Democratic majority in the Senate, he can be stopped.  It's ridiculous to put someone like that in charge of consumer safety since he's actually, and I don't know if this is a word but it should be, anti-qualified.  He not only can't do the job, he is being put in charge specifically so he won't do the job.  But it's not just that Bush appoints incompetent people, it's that these people are the same New Right business extremists that funded, financed, and trained George W. Bush and his whole political apparatus.  It's one movement.  

As a group formed in the wake of their disastrous and immoral governance, it's our responsibility to see that they never ever get their hands on anything remotely important ever again.  That means that Democratic lawmakers should reject Baroody's nomination.  It means ethical businessmen should write to the National Association of Manufacturer's and ask for the group to change its policies.  And it means that bloggers should write about the 'gang of six', so that working for these groups will be firmly associated with the business extremism they promote.

Tags: Michael Baroody, National Association of Manufacturer (all tags)



Re: Antiqualified versus Incompetent

Which committee has jurisdiction over his nomination and have you talked to any of the offices of those Democratic senators that serve on said committee?

by adamterando 2007-04-28 03:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Antiqualified versus Incompetent

It would be the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.  My Dem Sen. (Nelson-FL) is on that committee.  Needless to say, he's getting a call on Monday.

by joshuaj83 2007-04-28 03:50AM | 0 recs
Thanks for listing the captured business ...

... organizations relied upon by the radical right wing movement. The role of the radical right wing "Christian right" is very widely recognized, but the role of the radical right wing "Business right" is much less widely recognized, except by those fighting in the trenches.

Organization of small and medium sized business was a major bulwark of the Republican party, and so the capture of those organizations was a critical part of allowing the radical right wing to completely dominate the Republican party.

Indeed, while I recognized all of them, some of them from the minimum wage fight, and some from following environmental stories, I had never seen the list together in one place before.

by BruceMcF 2007-04-28 05:50AM | 0 recs

19 months to go.

by jasmine 2007-04-28 06:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Antiqualified versus Incompetent

Great post, Matt.

The Republican Party has been the party of big business since the 1880s. Big business was deeply antagonistic toward the New Deal (Roosevelt was reviled & frequently called a communist) but over the decades came to grudgingly accept its existence.

What has happened since the 1970s is that big business & small business have gelled into a cohesive force, aligned with the emerging social right, & have successfully targeted progressive policies in a sustained effort to undo them. They no longer accept the New Deal as established fact.

Unfortunately, we have numbers of elected Democrats that traffic with the above mention business lobbies & treat them as legitimate players rather than antagonists (EX. Senator Baucus from Montana is  most representive of this group). Till progressives organize & launch a sustained effort to defeat them, they will play a significant role in tilting policy to the right.

by carter1 2007-04-28 08:14AM | 0 recs
However, there are wedge issues to be ...

... exploited.

We really do have to do a Reagan here, with respect to what Reagan did to organized labor, and appeal directly to the interests of individual small businesses and business sectors to not fall in behind the organizations that claim to be their leaders.

by BruceMcF 2007-04-28 10:26AM | 0 recs
Re: However, there are wedge issues to be ...

No, they share in common an antipathy to regulation, don't want minimum wage, don't want workmen's comp nor the wage tax, are opposed to universal health care.

We need to neutralize them, we can't really co-op them.

by carter1 2007-04-28 11:41AM | 0 recs
Pigeon holing is not the way to get a wedge going.

There are, for example, small businesses that try to give health care to their workers. Not all small businesses employ at the minimum wage, and benefit more from money in the pockets of potential customers.

And all firms that are import-competers are getting absolutely hammered by the Walmartification strategy.

You don't start wedging by aiming at the middle of the coalition. You start wedging by getting in depth knowledge of the fringes of the coalition and identify the wedge issues that are compatible with your core alliance. Start first by whittling at the margins, and as you gain more experience, find the fault lines that allow you to take off bigger slices.

Indeed, a big part of finding the fault lines that allow you to take bigger slices is the whittling at the margins, as you pay attention to which passes take a bigger than anticipated slice, and work out the reasons for the success.

by BruceMcF 2007-04-28 12:02PM | 0 recs
The CoC Is Afraid of Me

Last year, I called the California Chamber of Commerce for a story I was doing for Random Lengths News.  Their spokesperson hung up on me, rather than answer my questions.  She said I "had an agenda."  She said I was not a "real journalist."

In her mind, perhaps, she actually thought that I needed her quote for my story, and that she had some sort of power over me.  But her actions said the exact opposite.  Her actions said that she was so used to stenographers, she didn't know how to handle a genuinely critical question.  She and the CoC had totally lost their edge.

It's not just me.  She didn't know me from Adam.  It's the questions. They do talking points. Period. Nothing else.

They can't handle the truth.

by Paul Rosenberg 2007-04-28 10:05AM | 0 recs
Re: Antiqualified versus Incompetent

That means that Democratic lawmakers should reject Baroody's nomination.

Couldn't Bush just ignore the rejection and appoint Baroody on a recess appointment, like every other person the congress has rejected? He seems dead set on the idea that it doesn't matter whether Congress approves his nominees or not.

Maybe Congress should consider just not holding recesses anymore.

by mcc 2007-04-28 01:20PM | 0 recs
US Chamber of Commerce

Thanks for highlighting this horrible group. They've been up to no-good here in West Virginia, running a phony campaign pushing tort reform.

After a bill they disliked got through the WVa legislature they pushed hard for a Gov. veto. Now that the Gov. has signed it, they're trying to manufacture a crisis to get the bill overturned in 2008.

el cabrero has the full story: U.S. Chamber of Whatever.

by WVaBlue 2007-04-28 05:49PM | 0 recs
Re: Antiqualified versus Incompetent

I know this is a possibly unpopular view here-- but weakening Sarbanes-Oxley isn't necessarily a bad thing, particularly if it's driven by exemptions for smaller businesses.

I'm a staunch progressive (Truly!!), working in the areas of green business and sustainability, and one of the things that is becoming evident is that small businesses can not easily afford the tremendous reporting requirements of Sarbanes-Oxley.

Working toward exemptions of certain onerous provisions, particularly section 404, may make it possible for small businesses to again be able to afford to sell their shares to the public.  

I'm not saying I support the Chamber of Commerce, or Donahue, but I just want to challenge the meme that suggests that Sarbanes-Oxley is a progressive panacea beyond reproach.  

It does some important things, but has also created some problems.  It's a complex piece of legislation, and I believe good progressives are smart enough to hold a nuanced view of the pluses and minuses of this piece of legislation.

by spacespace 2007-04-28 11:38PM | 0 recs


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