It Begins!

Obama’s honeymoon is over, and so is my intermittent blogging, because business groups have finally started their machines! Christopher Conkey reports in the Journal:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it will spend $100 million in an effort to stem the “rapidly growing influence of government over private-sector activity,” in a major new move by the powerful business group to counter the Obama administration’s regulatory agenda.


Chamber president Thomas Donohue said his organization is launching its “Campaign for Free Enterprise” because an “avalanche of new rules, restrictions, mandates and taxes” could “seriously undermine the wealth and job-creating capacity of the nation.” Funds from the Chamber’s campaign will be largely spent on advertising and lobbying.

This is reminiscent of a similar campaign, started by the National Association of Manufacturers, to fight the New Deal. And smaller efforts are afoot as well. Frank Davies of the San Jose Merc reports that:

NetChoice, a group backed by AOL, Yahoo, eBay, Oracle and other online companies, launched a campaign Tuesday against proposed laws across the country that it says would harm e-commerce and consumers. The list is dubbed iAwful, a catchy acronym for Internet Advocates’ Watchlist for Ugly Laws.

The list, mostly state proposals, includes North Carolina bills to impose sales tax on digital downloads and on the resale of sports and concert tickets, and New York’s effort to tax job-seeking and résumé services.

Yes, choice, that’s what we want. Of course, state laws are a form of democratic choice. But they’re bad choices! Obviously NetChoice will make better ones.

Davies’ report continues: “States are hurting and looking for taxes from anywhere they can,” said Steve DelBianco, executive director of NetChoice. “We’re also seeing more business online, and a disruptive technology that kids understand better than many legislators, so it’s a perfect storm.”

Wait, I recognize that name. Steve DelBianco…isn’t that the same Steve DelBianco that works for the libertarian Association for Competitive Technology (ACT), where he is Vice President for Public Policy? And isn’t it interesting that NewChoice’s postal address is the same as ACT’s?


13 responses to “It Begins!”

  1. D. C. Sessions

    I wonder what the sales tax will be on an Ubuntu install image?

    What will be the tax for posting an ad on Craigslist?

  2. @D.C. Sessions, it’s clear that they should tax these things, establish a distribution group, and give the money to Microsoft and newspapers, respectively.

  3. Most of the health care and environmental denialists are free-market ideologues. I’ve noticed that laissez-faire capitalism itself seems to be a form of denialism.

  4. Julius

    David Delony, #3: Absolutely. If you go to the early “what is denialism” posts on this blog, a lot of it is about corporate denialism anyway – tobacco companies denying any harm, and such. Which often seems to be tied up with a (more opportunistic than ideological, I guess) undercurrent of “the government should keep out of this”. Environmentalism is simply incompatible with libertarian ideas about markets. As is much of reality, really.

    I guess for balance one might say that full-on communism probably qualifies as well, but it’s not that relevant – libertarianism/laissez-faire capitalism is clearly the more dominant ideology at the moment and so the one worth looking at critically.

  5. This is where I diverge from your philosophical perspective. How is public policy debate a form of denialism, which seems to be inferred from your article. Interest groups of all stripes have the option (and right) to publish their points of view, spend their dollars advocating for their cause and attempting to influence policy – which is continually distanced from the average citizen.

    Most professionals (doctors, attorneys, engineers, etc.) belong to professional association which have a legislative arm and advocate on their behalf (not always in alignment). At times I find your views too easily confusing real denialist issues (HIV, holocaust, etc) with legitimate policy debates and politics.

    Julius’ viewpoint is one of measures. At what point should government interfere in business and society? And consequently, what will be the impact on its governed citizens? Would increased government taxation and restrictive regulation lead to reduced innovation and growth?

    What is a health care denialist?

  6. LanceR, JSG

    What ChrisH is referring to, Citizen Deux, is the expected tactics the insurance lobbies will use to kill healthcare reform. See for a very well done discussion of this.

    There is a vast difference between policy debate; “Should we do this, and if so, how?” and denialist “No! It’ll kill innovation! It’s government interference! Bureaucrats deciding your healthcare!”

    We would all be happy to see ChrisH be wrong in this instance. But I for one am not going to hold my breath.

  7. @Citizen Deux, I object more to the Chamber effort, because (if I am correct), it’s not about a dialogue focusing on problems, but rather a general offensive against any intervention on business. You’ll see that PR campaigns following the later approach will incorporate many of the “Deck of Cards” tactics.

    The full WSJ article is worth reading too. Part of the backstory here is that the Chamber allows businesses to say things they cannot say themselves. It’s a form of sock puppetry, and it works!

  8. Paul Murray

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce said it will spend $100 million in an effort to stem the “rapidly growing influence of government over private-sector activity,”

    Hang on … what is it that they normally call organisations with a stated goal of bypassing or subverting the law? There’s a word for it … Oh! I remember now. They call them “crime syndicates”.

  9. Deux: As used on this blog and when applied to lobbying efforts, ‘denialism’ is used to suggest that someone is using very dishonest arguments and underhanded techniques in a policy debate, and that the reasons they give are merely cover stories to hide their real motivations.

    Let’s take the tobacco companies as an example, as they are now the textbook example. They were denialists for two reasons. The first is that they were dishonest – they used false medical studies, paid off doctors to speak on their behalf, made campaign contributions to politicians who supported them, and so on. Standard lobbying techniques, but not fair under the formal rules of debate: You are supposed to fight on the merits of the arguments, not by resorting to lieing and legalised bribery. Secondly, because even they couldn’t have believed many of their arguments, but merely used them as excuses because their real objective would be less acceptable: To make as much money as possible regardless of how many people they killed in the process.

    The climate change denialists are in a similar situation. Their objective is to fight efforts to reduce climate change, because such efforts will be extremally detrimental to their profits – espicially the oil companies. But it wouldn’t be effective PR to just say they would rather see millions killed than their profits reduced, so instead they have to resort to dirty debate in order to keep climate change measures from being implimented – that means, as with the tobacco companies, the use of denialist tactics. Lies, buying experts, fake studies, campaign contributions, and the use of arguments completly unrelated to the subject at hand like appeals to patriotism.

    There is a crucial difference between debate and denialism. Debate seeks to determine a factual truth, or determine the proper course of action. In denialism, the denialist has already decided on the conclusion he desires, and will do whatever it takes to make sure that conclusion is reached even with the full knowledge that it is not the correct answer.

  10. I think the application of “denialism” to the participants in this debate is over extended. This is not akin to the circumstances of the tobacco lobby denying the accuracy of tobacco as a health hazard.

    It is interesting that the proponents for HCR (healthcare reform) seem to believe (strongly) in a conclusion about the “right answer” for healthcare. They also seem to be quick to cast the aspersion of denialist to someone who seeks to protect their own interests and has a different view of the “crisis”.

    Labeling the US Chamber of Commerce as a “crime syndicate” is certainly an ad hominem attack. It seems to me that the concerns raised by all parties are not being heard or well understood.

  11. I have yet to see a good synopsis of the healthcare reform debate. There are several questions which I would ask about any plan and its impact on the future state of healthcare.

    1) What reasons would people seek to remain uninsured? (the detail behind the 45MM uninsured number)

    2) What will the impact be to medical innovation through implementation of cost controls?

    3) How do we deal with “bleeders”, the most ill of our population in insuring quality care?

    4) Is there an upper limit on care?

    5) Should people be allowed to by as much care as they can afford? Will this affect the quality of care?

    6) How do we deal with “undocumented” people? (illegal immigrants, homeless, etc.)

    If anyone has a pointer to a good synopisis of this debate – I would be grateful.

  12. Here is a nice overview from a financial perspective. I am not a NY Times fan, but this article seems to present a broad macro view of the interests involved.

    NY Tomes on the Debate

    It would seem that the only group not represented is the general public, who would like flawless care, for free. Being one of these, I can sympathize.

  13. What’s with spamming on blogs?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *