Yves here. The Chamber of Commerce is deviating from its usual form to act like real estate developers, who often support both sides early on, and then late in the election, give more to the likely winner.
Saagar Enjeti explains the importance of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s quiet decision to back Democratic candidates
One of the more underappreciated pieces of news in a week that exploded with news — leak of Trump’s taxes, the presidential debate, the presidential disease — was this, that a long-time strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has resigned over the Chamber’s decision to back 23 vulnerable House Democrats and to reduce financial support for Republican senatorial candidates.
Chamber of Commerce and top political strategist part ways amid turmoil
Scott Reed, who had been with the business organization for most of the past decade, said it was shifting toward Democrats.
Scott Reed, the longtime top political strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said Tuesday that he left the organization after a political shift at the business lobbying powerhouse.
The move comes amid mounting fears among Republicans — including many within the organization — that the traditionally conservative Chamber is moving to the left after endorsing roughly two dozen freshman House Democrats for reelection this year.
Reed explained his departure (the Chamber said he was “fired for cause”) this way: “I can no longer be part of this institution as it moves left.”
Putting aside the dispute over whether Reed left or was fired, there are two explanations for what the Chamber is doing, and they’re not the same. Reed says he departed because the Chamber “moved left.” The Politico slugline writer says more simply that the Chamber was “shifting toward Democrats.”
Needless to say, “moving left” is not the same as “supporting Democrats.” Ryan Grim, writing at The Intercept, calls the Chamber’s transformation a “slow migration of the elite wing of the Republican Party into the Democratic fold.” This seems a much better explanation.
Hedging Their Bets or Trying to Influence the Outcome?
In the past, all or almost all of that money went to Republicans — 93%, for example, in 2010. This year the Chamber is not only supporting many more Democrats; it’s supporting Democrats in a way that will make a difference in the partisan makeup of Congress. While the Chamber also supports House Republicans, the 29 House freshmen it is backing “are running in some of the most competitive races in the country, including 14 in districts won by President Donald Trump in 2016” according to CNN.
On the Senate side, the Chamber has greatly reduced its spending on vulnerable Republicans, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine). Politico notes that Reed’s decision to resign “was linked to the Chamber’s unwillingness to spend significant money on Senate races in the closing days of the election” and adds that Ms. Collins is receiving “far less money in 2020 than … in 2014, when [the Chamber] put tens of millions of dollars behind GOP Senate candidates.”
Politico has Reed saying the Chamber is “hedging its bets.” Voices on the libertarian right are much more virulent, calling this a “betrayal” and abandonment of “free market principles.” At the same time Republican leaders see the Chamber as, in House minority leader Kevin McCarthy’s words, “part of this socialist agenda that is driving this country out, and … fighting the president.”
Those are angry, empty words. Biden to Trump at the first debate: “I am not a socialist.” Progressives to world: “It’s true. He’s not. He’s a moderate Republican.” Three Conclusions
From all this I think we can draw three conclusions, each leading to a different electoral thought.
First, that Ryan Grim is right when he says the elite wing of the Republican Party is being folded into the Democratic Party — not just in theory, but in practice, in dollars, as well. It’s clear that the Chamber and those who give it their money have made the calculation, at least for this presidential cycle, that their interests will be genuinely served by a Biden White House and a unified Democratic Congress.
In other words, they want a united government controlled by the Democratic Party. They know Trump is going to lose (Trump was scheduled to lose even before the recent Covid incident), and they’re working to both maintain a Democratic House majority and to sabotage the current Republican Senate majority.
There’s really no other way to read this news.
Second, as stated above, the Chamber of Congress and the big-league donors who support it know that a Biden White House and Democratic Congress will further their interest far more than a Trump-led divided or Republican government.
If the Chamber is right, progressives looking to “move Biden left” after the election, have their work cut out for them. The only “moving left” the administration will do is on identity issues. On issues involving money, it will “move left” only at the margins and for show.
For example, will Biden ban fracking? Of course not; there are too many big-donor dollars (and banking dollars) involved in that industry. For all his recent words, Biden seeks a “middle ground” on climate issues. It’s easy to promise carbon-free power by 2035,” fifteen years into a future in which he’ll be dead.
Finally, Biden will almost certainly be the next president.
I mentioned a “Trump-led government” above for a reason. Earlier I wrote (“Civil War? What Civil War?“) that almost everyone in the establishment regardless of party, from the military to the national security apparatus to the media to, now, the Chamber of Congress, opposes a return of Donald Trump to the White House. While they’re not working directly against him — that would be a bridge too far — they’re not help out; in fact, they’re working to give him a Congress he can’t work with.
The truth is this: Donald Trump is such a terrible, unpredictable and embarrassing steward of the American hegemony project that no one with Establishment power wants to see him back. #NeverTrumpers are just a tip of the Republican side of that iceberg. This “betrayal” by the Chamber of Congress, one of the Republican Party’s most stalwart and reliable supporters, strongly supports that contention.
If this is true, it means I will be proved right in predicting the outcome of the coming election as follows:
If Trump wins big, Trump’s in.
If Biden wins big, Biden’s in.
If Trump is ahead in a squeaker and it goes to the courts, the Roberts Court will give the win to Biden unless there’s no defensible way to not give it to Trump.
If Biden is ahead in a squeaker and it goes to the courts, Biden will be handed the White House.
You can bet that if the election is closer than the number of disputed ballots in key electoral-college states, there will be a way to hand the election to whichever candidate the Roberts Court prefers. Will John Roberts, a Republican, give the election to MAGA Republicans or to Chamber Republicans, if he could pick one or the other? John Roberts is a Chamber Republican.
If you’re worried about the 2000 election and you fear a Republican Court will back a Republican candidate, consider that George Bush was also the Establishment candidate. This time, the Establishment candidate is the Democrat.
Even if Amy Coney Barrett is confirmed this year, will she really want to oppose John Roberts in her first Supreme Court opinion ever, Roberts who will lead the institution she’ll serve for the next 30 years of her life? If course not; there will be plenty of time for Amy Coney Barrett to screw the country later. Roberts will win the discussion, if he wants to, this time around.
Again, Trump is not the candidate of the oligarchy, of the small clutch of people who actually run the country. Biden is. In any close outcome, he has the edge. Biden will be the next president unless Trump wins by a significant margin — or dies and the rest of the country, including the Chamber, falls suddenly in love with Mike Pence.