DATE: January 11th, 2024
TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Liz Zelnick, Director of Accountable.US’ Economic Security & Corporate Power Program
SUBJECT: Will U.S. Chamber President Sugarcoat Corporate Price-Gouging, Industry Discrimination?
It’s time again for the annual airing of corporate grievances from U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Suzanne Clark, even as corporate profits are at a near-record high and the U.S. economy continues to add hundreds of thousands of jobs every month.
Clark will no doubt use her yearly ‘State of American Business’ speech today as a megaphone to attack the Biden administration’s efforts to crack down on corporate price-gouging, like Big Pharma overcharging on life-saving medicines or the excessive hidden junk fees companies charge that leave millions of Americans with far fewer dollars in their pockets.
Clark will likely threaten more lawsuits against the administration for daring to regulate runaway corporate greed and discriminatory industry practices — just as she did last year, and the year before that.
That is because the U.S. Chamber represents many of the worst offenders of corporate profiteering and discrimination including those with histories of settlements and fines for shady behavior. Clark is always eager to make excuses on behalf of greedy industry CEOs and lobbyists with an ax to grind against federal regulators that do their job saving everyday Americans time and money.
Here are themes the U.S. Chamber is likely to hit on today:
- Boasting of Chamber Lawsuit to Block Biden Effort to Lower Seniors’ Drug Costs. In July 2023, U.S. Chamber filed a lawsuit on behalf of its pharmaceutical members seeking to block the implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act’s Medicare drug price negotiation program. What Clark will likely gloss over is that the Biden law backed by 3 in 4 Americans is already working to save seniors money by requiring drug makers to negotiate lower prices on 10 key drugs that cost 9 million Medicare beneficiaries a staggering $3.4 billion in out-of-pocket costs in 2022 alone, including treatments for cancer and heart disease.
- Trumpeting Lawsuit to Sideline the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as It Works to Lower Consumer Costs by Ending Hidden Junk Fees. On July 10, 2023, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce led a financial industry-wide amicus brief in support of a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court brought by the predatory payday loan industry that seeks to gut the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by striking down its independent funding structure. It is a naked effort to shutter the agency and leave millions of consumers vulnerable to predatory financial industry behavior from the likes of megabanks tied to the Chamber. This includes price-gouging through hidden junk fees like credit card late fees and overdraft charges, a practice the Chamber has strongly defended.
- Celebrating Lawsuit to Enshrine Discrimination in the Financial Industry. A Chamber-filed lawsuit moving through conservative courts seeks to reverse the CFPB’s crackdown on illegal discrimination in the financial industry. Clark will likely neglect to mention that the Chamber’s co-plaintiffs include major banking industry groups with members accused of discrimination on the grounds of race, gender, sexual orientation, and disability over the past decade, as Accountable.US has documented.
The Chamber teamed up with interests that have racked up nearly $1 billion in fines or settlements with regulators, consumer advocacy groups, and individuals harmed by their misconduct. Additionally, at least nine senior figures in the Chamber’s leadership ranks had relevant and concerning records of racial discrimination that have likely influenced the group’s opposition to the CFPB’s enforcement efforts in the banking sector. CEO Suzanne Clark herself is on the board of credit reporting agency TransUnion, which has been criticized for its central role in perpetuating “systemic racial injustice” and inequality.
The U.S. Chamber often claims to represent the best interests of American workers and small business owners. In reality, the Chamber spends millions of dollars shilling for corporate lobbyists and CEOs who needlessly price-gouge everyday families to pad their profits. The Chamber is funded by industries that hate that the Biden administration’s crackdown on hidden junk fees and corporate price gouging will lower costs for Americans.
BOTTOM LINE: Don’t expect President Clark to admit why the CEOs and industry lobbyists she represents hold such contempt for the Biden administration’s rulemaking and oversight designed to lower costs: because corporations often bend or break the rules to bolster their bottom line on the backs of American consumers. Bad industry practices like excessive overdraft fees, predatory lending, and discrimination may help enrich a small group of wealthy investors, but it will never help grow the middle class.