Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Is the Chamber of Commerce in Danger of Losing Its Pro-Business Reputation?

Yesterday, I wrote a column suggesting that the Indiana Chamber of Commerce was pursuing a poor political strategy in aggressively ridiculing opponents of Common Core.  Many of those opponents are people who strongly believe in education reform but simply disagree with the Chamber on Common Core.   Even if the Chamber didn't want to remain neutral on this issue, firing shots at long-time political allies did not seem like good politics to me.  I doubt that those hit by the Chambers' bullets are going to want to forgive the Chamber any time soon as the education reform debate moves on to other issues.
Kevin Brinegar, President, Indiana Chamber of Commerce

But the Chamber seems to have more problems than that. There was a time when Chambers of Commerce promoted low taxes and limited government.  That time is no more.  The Indiana Chamber of Commerce opposes the proposed Pence 10% income tax cut.  The Chamber also supports mass transit expansion in Indianapolis which will raise local income taxes by 20% (after already being raised by 65% in 2007), not to mention also requiring the infusion of a massive amount of state and federal taxes to subsidize the system. 

The Chamber's opposition to the Pence tax cut and support of a local tax increase unfortunately isn't a recent development.

In 2009, when the Capitol Improvement Board came calling to the Indiana General Assembly wanting to raise local taxes, including the tax on hotels, for a bailout, the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce gleefully supported the tax increases,   In 2013, when the Indianapolis City-County Council was considering maxing out the admissions and local car rental tax to give more money to the CIB, which tax increases would make Indianapolis the third highest city in the country for "visitor taxes," the Indianapolis Chamber once again enthusiastically supported the increases.

It is undisputed that most jobs are created by small businesses, not the large corporations that get the most of the attention and most of the corporate welfare.  Governor Pence argues that the state (and local) income tax hits those small businesses the hardest because most are set up to pass income through to individual returns.  He is exactly right about that.  That's why his 10% tax cut proposal is very pro-business and should be supported by the Chamber.

It is hard to see how the Chamber can continue to claim to be pro-business while consistently supporting tax increases and the increased government spending that drives those tax increases.


Racoon said...

You've connected the dots, Paul. It leads to the conclusion that the Chamber has become merely a rent-seeking lobby that peddles feel-good elixirs so to unlock state and local treasuries to loot them for their members.

Pete Boggs said...

They've long carried the chamber pot for crony capped expanded government.

Nicolas Martin said...

Chambers of Commerce have always been cheerleaders for corporatism, not for free markets or the interests of consumers.