Republican lawmakers are at once flummoxed and indignant about their change of fortunes with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, their erstwhile loyal ally in all things political. For years, the Chamber had the GOP's back no matter what its lawmakers did. From manufactured claims about weapons of mass destruction to a years-long assault on Americans’ ideals and constitutional principles, Republicans could always count on the Chamber to pat them on the head and shower them with money for reelection.
But now that Republicans have trashed their entire brand by surrendering it to Donald Trump, the Chamber has taken a new posture toward the incoming Biden administration. As Politico notes, the group has cheered most of President Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package; welcomed Biden's reentry into the Paris climate accord; indicated an openness to raising the minimum wage, if not to $15 per hour; and even supported the confirmation of Neera Tanden, former leader of the liberal think tank the Center of American Progress, for director of Office of Management and Budget.
The shift has left GOP lawmakers despondent and, well, rage-y. Rep. Jason Smith of Missouri bitterly complained that the Chamber “has forgotten Main Street America,” according to Politico. The outlet writes, "Smith’s frustration with the Chamber is shared by many Republicans who say the group is now unrecognizable to them."
Wow. Have Republicans stopped to look in the mirror lately? Or put another way, any chance it's the GOP that's become a grotesque caricature of its former self? Not that its former self was much of a looker, but it was apparently good enough for the Chamber and now it’s clearly not.
Hey, everyone has a breaking point. The Chamber's appeared to be 2020, when it endorsed the reelection of almost two dozen House Democrats. At the time, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy told Fox News the group could effectively take its endorsements and shove it “because they have sold out.”
In addition, then-Majority Leader Mitch McConnell simply dismissed the Chamber's relevance because it had clearly lost its way.
"Honestly at this point, I think they're so confused about what they're about that they probably don't make much difference," McConnell told Politico in September.
McConnell ally and former chief of staff Josh Holmes piled on, saying the Chamber had become “totally unmoored” from its mission of promoting businesses.
Totally unmoored? It’s not like the Chamber’s shift exists in isolation. The GOP’s reputation is suffering among Americans, donors are shunning it, and tens of thousands of voters are abandoning it. So at what point does the GOP look around the empty room and wonder, is it us?