Chamber’s Election Stance = Bystander in Fiscal Cliff Talks?

Photograph by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce shouts “JOBS” with two-story-tall block letters strung on its building facing the White House.

That might be the closest the business trade association gets to President Barack Obama’s talks on skirting the fiscal cliff, a $607 billion combination of automatic spending cuts and tax increases scheduled to take effect in January.

The chamber, which spent at least $50 million on political advertising backing Republican candidates who opposed Obama, is a bystander in the debate over Washington’s most critical post- election issue. It is being supplanted by other business groups such as Fix the Debt and the Partnership for New York City.|

Tom Donohue, who has led the chamber since 1997 and whom tax filings show is compensated with about $5 million annually, showed defiance when asked by reporters how he would make his fiscal-cliff message heard if the administration doesn’t listen.

“We have enough assets here, enough voice here, enough resources here that we can take care of ourselves,” he says.

Asked how the chamber expected to work with senators it had bet against, Donohue said its efforts weren’t personal and that the group isn’t deterred by its losses.

“We’re in the political business for the long run,” Donohue says.

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