Taking the heat and defending free enterprise

It’s about time that business groups started defending free enterprise, and the U. S. Chamber of Commerce is off to a good start – a bit belatedly – with its “American Free Enterprise. Dream Big” campaign. Launched on October 14, the campaign features national TV and print ad campaigns, a video contest, small business awards, and other outreach.

Here’s the underlying message, as shown on their website:

At the U.S. Chamber, we believe that the values of individual initiative, hard work, freedom of choice, and the free exchange of trade, capital, and ideas can lead America back to prosperity. Only free enterprise will create the innovation, the opportunities, and the jobs our nation needs. That is why we are launching this campaign.

The Chamber has been under a lot of pressure recently to cave in to the rent-seekers on global warming policy.  Some members of the Climate Action Partnership seeking to profit from cap-and-trade legislation  —  the utilities Pacific Gas & Electric, PNM Resources and Exelon — bowed out of their Chamber membership. Then, Nike and Apple sanctimoniously dropped their membership.  But as the Wall Street Journal noted today, both of those companies would escape onerous energy taxes from global warming legislation because most of their manufacturing is done in countries that don’t yet suppress energy use.

The WSJ points out how short-sighted these companies are:

If companies are going to dump the Chamber over a single dispute, then the overall influence of business in Washington is likely to decline. The Chamber’s job isn’t to favor one company’s agenda over another but to stand broadly for free trade, low taxes and limited regulation-principles that help U.S. business as a whole.

Having abandoned their business allies on climate change, Apple and Nike might wake up one day to discover they need those friends on one of their crucial issues. It will serve them right if they find themselves alone in the Beltway square.

The Chamber deserves kudos for standing firm on principle and coming out loud and clear in its support of free enterprise.