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Jon Fleischman

Report From Switzerland: CalChamber Goes Neutral On Props. 30, 32

Last Friday, I penned a column where I pointed out that the Board of Directors of the California Chamber of Commerce would be meeting at the posh Casa Del Mar beachfront hotel in Santa Monica, where among other things they would be considering whether to take a position on Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s measure to hit Californians with higher income and sales taxes in order to preserve the status-quo.  The CalChamber officially took a neutral position on the measure.  We spoke with a number of friends on the CalChamber Board who confirmed with us that a secret ballot was taken, and that the 60% threshold to oppose the tax increase was not achieved.

I guess with the CalChamber’s refusal to step up and defend the thousands (if not tens of thousands) of small businesses around California that will see their tax burden significantly increase with the passage of Proposition 30, it probably should come with no surprise that this group that advocates for a more business-friendly state legislature has also refused to take a position on Proposition 32, the Stop Special Interest Money Now initiative, that the state’s massive public employee unions are fighting with tens of millions of dollars.  The reality is that this measure would end the domination of the status quo in the State Capitol — a status quo that apparently many leaders within the CalChamber want to leave in place.  At least in the closing days when the Prop. 32 campaign is making its final sale to the voters, they will be able to truthfully say that none of the special interests that dominate Sacaramento, big labor or big business, are supporting the measure.

Speaking of big business it is no wonder that according to a Rasmussen poll from earlier this year, 68% of Americans believe that government and big business work together against the rest of us.

How many people are left on the CalChamber Board who would read this column from yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, penned by successful business mogul Charles G. Koch — Crony Capitalism Is Harming America — and actually agree with the sentiments within it?  Apparently, too few.

With these neutral positions on the two most significant issues on the November ballot, the CalChamber is well on its way to being just like the public employee unions – a special interest group more interested in maintaining the status quo — unwilling to challenge the political class to seek a better way for business to thrive here in the Golden State.

The CalChamber has taken yet another hit to its already-damaged credibility.  You can’t talk about being advocates for a better business climate in Sacramento, and then take political positions that support the status quo, and expect to remain credible.  Out of one side of its mouth, the CalChamber talks negatively about the influence of unions, trial lawyers and extreme environmentalists in the Capitol — while at the same time they refuse to support a ballot measure who’s very purpose is to end that vice-like hold on the levers of state government.

While groups like the Small Business Action Committee, the National Federation of Independent Business, California and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association will be spending the next 58 days working intensely to defeat the Governor’s tax hike measure, at least 41% of the executives that populate the CalChamber Executive Committee will be voting for it, hoping to screw the small, entrepeneurial businesses around California with a massive tax increase so that government can continue to grow, and give their businesses hand outs, tax credits, or regulate their competitors.

Sometimes I half-jokingly refer to the California Chamber as the “Chamber of Horrors” — but that is exactly the title which they deserve today.  Pathetic is the work that comes to mind to describe their inaction on these two critical measures.  Just pathetic.

Link To The CalChamber’s Positions On Ballot Positions
Link To The CalChamber’s Board of Directors