Something’s strange at the US Chamber of Commerce.
In May, the Chamber threw $175,000 behind the re-election campaign of Andy Barr, with this commercial airing across Central Kentucky’s 6th District:
The problem is… Andy Barr doesn’t support the Chamber of Commerce. In fact, he’s gone out of his way to flout the Chamber’s political agenda.
The ad claims that Kentucky is “under attack” from Obamacare, the Affordable Health Care Act that created the Kynect marketplace and has so far extended health care coverage to over 400,000 people. The Chamber’s ad claims that Andy Barr wants to “fix” Obamacare. But Andy Barr has said emphatically, time and again, that he does not want to “fix” Obamacare at all — Andy Barr wants nothing less than a full repeal and Andy Barr will not be satisfied until Kynect has been dismantled and those 400,000 people have their insurance coverage ripped right out of their hands.
Moreover — the Chamber of Commerce isn’t actually in favor of a full repeal of Obamacare. The President of the Chamber of Commerce said earlier this year that he and the Chamber want to see it fixed:
“The administration is obviously committed to keeping the law in place, so the Chamber’s not out opposing it,” Donahue said in his remarks this week. Instead, Donahue vowed to continue “working pragmatically to fix those parts of Obamacare that can be fixed while doing everything possible to make regulations and mandates as manageable as possible for business.”
That puts Barr and the Chamber of Commerce directly at odds… and it’s not the first time. Now, the Chamber may just be working to purposeful mislead and deceive voters in the 6th District with the TV ad above, but it actually fits a pattern of behavior for Andy Barr. On issue after issue, the Chamber is all in for one thing, and Andy Barr’s doing the exact opposite.
Which raises the question, why would the Chamber continue to support Andy Barr? They’re paying to elect a guy who may help them on a few of their multi-national corporation issues, but on their central policy priorities, and their important long term goals, the Chamber is putting their money into a candidate who’s actively undermining their work. They’re essentially wasting their money twice.
THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: Andy Barr was in favor, the Chamber of Commerce was against.
In May, the Chamber of Commerce threw millions of dollars behind a handful of House and Senate candidates. Their senior political strategist said that the Chamber was going to target and support only Republicans who had worked to avert last year’s government shutdown:
Mr. Reed also said that, in the wake of last year’s government shutdown, the chamber was throwing its financial and political might behind candidates who the group thinks could help lift Congress out of partisan gridlock.
“Candidates that run on shutting down the government are a threshold issue for the Chamber of Commerce,” Mr. Reed said. “We believe in growth stability and governing, and in this first effort we’ll be supporting 10-plus campaigns that believe in that mantra, and that’s the direction we’re going in this summer and into the fall.”
One of the campaigns the Chamber chose to support was Andy Barr. But that’s odd, since Andy Barr supported the government shutdown.
After voting Wednesday night against the final deal that reopened the government and extended the debt ceiling, Barr told the Lexington Herald-Leader that he had reflected on his campaign promises and his daughters who stand to inherit a massive national debt. He was adamant that he had not considered the political ramifications.
“You know what? I don’t care, and I am not focused on politics,” Barr said. “This is not about politics. This is about the next generation.”
Either the Chamber of Commerce is lying and working to deceive voters, and their membership, or they’re getting taken to the cleaners by Andy Barr.
IMMIGRATION REFORM: Andy Barr opposes immigration reform, the Chamber of Commerce is in favor of it.
The Chamber of Commerce has worked actively with the AFL/CIO and other powerful pro-”amnesty” interests to push immigration reform through the Senate last year and earlier this year, Chamber president Tom Donahue wrote a letter, signed by 636 corporate entities (from Facebook to Hewlitt Packard to Halliburton), to House Speaker John Boehner, pleading with him to lead his GOP majority down the path to immigration reform:
“Failure to act is not an option,” the letter stated. “We cannot afford to be content and watch a dysfunctional immigration system work against our overall national interest. In short, immigration reform is an essential element of a jobs agenda and economic growth. It will add talent, innovation, investment, products, businesses, jobs, and dynamism to our economy.”
In May, Donahue reiterated his point more starkly:
We’ll be absolutely crazy if we don’t take advantage of having passed an immigration bill out of the Senate. Going back and doing it again might be harder and do something rational in the House and put it together and let’s get the three or four things we really need there. And we’ve got a lot of heat on that and we’re going to put a lot more.
[...] If the Republicans don’t do it, they shouldn’t bother to run a candidate in 2016. I mean, think about that. Think about who the voters are.
And then just yesterday, in the wake of the ongoing humanitarian crisis in along the border, Donahue wrote:
The business community and its partners will continue to make the case for meaningful reform. We’re going to use every tool and resource at our disposal. And we’re going to keep pushing our leaders to do the right thing for our country, if not before the election, then after—perhaps during a lame-duck session.
Yet when it comes to Andy Barr, the Chamber of Commerce is using every tool and resource at its disposal to block immigration reform. Barr’s continued opposition to the type of level headed reform America’s business community and manufacturers are pleading for in order to stimulate the American economy and create a more stable and growing job base is a slap in the face to Chamber president Tom Donahue.
Andy Barr isn’t just making Donahue and the Chamber look stupid, he’s making them look impotent.
THE EX/IM BANK: The Chamber of Commerce Defends It, Andy Barr seeks to End It.
Andy Barr sits on the House Financial Services Committee. The committee is run by Jeb Hensarling of Texas. Hensarling is on the war path against the Export/Import Bank. Hensarling and the Tea Party want to destroy it, while John Boehner and more mainstream Republicans think maybe that’s a step too far. So far, Boehner and the new Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy haven’t acted to stop Hensarling (in large part because they just saw what happened to Eric Cantor and are scared out of their minds), so Hensarling’s been free to press onward — but he doesn’t press on alone. Hensarling, who’s helped funnel at least $42,000 to Andy Barr’s re-election campaign, has enlisted Andy Barr as one of his leading sentry’s in the fight to dismantle the ExIm Bank. Just last week, Barr advanced Hensarling’s cause:
Proponents of the Export-Import Bank tout the agency as a champion of small businesses, but Rep. Andy Barr, R-Ky., yesterday challenged that claim during a hearing and told the story of of a small Kentucky company that was overwhelmed by related regulations.
Regardless of whatever you might think about the Export-Import Bank and the need to decease it, Barr’s strident opposition to the ExIm is yet another example of the Congressman making the Chamber of Commerce look downright foolish for propping him up.
The Chamber of Commerce is directly at odds with Hensarling and Barr. While Andy Barr works to repeal the ExIm, the Chamber of Commerce is fighting to salvage it. They’ve even set up an entire webpage debunking the exact kinds of myths Andy Barr is so busily trotting out… at the same exact time they have set up an entire webpage supporting Andy Barr.
For the Chamber of Commerce all this adds up to one big mess. Either the Chamber is wasting its money to buy a candidate’s office so that the candidate can actively work to undermine all the policies they’re simultaneously paying big money to advance, or the Chamber’s President is being willfully ignored by a set of rogue political actors within his own organization.
Time Magazine is out today with an article exploring how the Chamber of Commerce, with the help of Mitch McConnell, is “saving the GOP establishment at the ballot box” and while the article is certain to enrage conservatives and Tea Partiers in Kentucky, they can take some solace in the fact that, so far, in Kentucky’s 6th District, the Chamber of Commerce is supporting a pro-shutdown Republican who opposes the Chamber’s agenda on issue after issue, from immigration to health care to the Export Import bank. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad.