As the accompanying Pew analysis put it:
Seven-in-ten (70%) say that people are better off in a free market even if there are severe ups and downs at times. Since last fall, there has been a modest rise in the percentage saying a smaller government with fewer services is preferable to a bigger government with more services (from 42% to 48%).
But look what else Pew found:
At the same time, however, 54% say it is a good idea for the government to exert more control over the economy than it has in recent years. Even among Republicans, nearly a third (32%) endorses the idea of the government now exerting greater control over the economy.
As much as the Chamber and its pals want to make the campaign about the 70 versus the 20, isn’t the whole effort really directed toward that 54 percent? That’s a legitimate focus for the Chamber, but National Journal should have been clearer about it.
Also, with a piece that comes in at some 3,700 words, it’s also too bad National Journal didn’t find space to follow up on the heated flap over the Chamber’s claims about the size of its membership—three million or 300,000?—which started with a Mother Jones report, spilled into the mainstream, and, at a minimum, created widespread journalistic confusion.
Also unmentioned in the NJ piece were several high-profile defections, as documented by the WSJ, stemming from disputes over its stance on climate change, its general political posture, and other matters.
Finally, the very inside-the-Beltway magazine seems too content to let the Chamber blur the important legal differences that govern the Chamber’s lobbying and political activities.
Officials insist that the campaign’s name-gathering is distinct from the chamber’s lobbying and political activities and that the new database is not being shared with the group’s lobbying or political shop. “We will never be communicating with this group to go vote for X, Y, or Z, so it’s not political in that context. It’s not designed to be,” Anderson said in a late-January interview.
That may be a distinction without a meaningful difference, however. “If there comes a time when there is some legislation pending in Washington where the jobs issue is at the forefront, we may communicate with these people” and express the chamber’s views, he acknowledged.
The piece, in fact, doesn’t make quite clear enough where this advocacy effort fits in the Chamber’s wide array of activities. Is it a part of its effort to influence legislation, and thus subject to disclosure rules and other lobbying restrictions? Is it political activity, with its fundraising and spending governed by the rules and regulations of the Federal Election Commission? A little more clarity on this front would be a nice addition.
When it comes to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, more coverage is definitely in order.