Chamber Sidestepped in Budget Talks

Groups such as Fix the Debt and Partnership for New York City have supplanted the Chamber in fiscal-cliff negotiations.

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.

‘Campaign Mode’

The chamber’s place on the sidelines as of now shows Obama is “still in campaign mode,” Jade West, senior vice president of government relations for the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors, said in an interview. She said she views the chamber’s spending against Democrats as “a chicken-and-egg situation.”

CEO Meeting

Another group, the Partnership for New York City, has 32 corporate partners. The White House has tapped both groups to draw attention to CEOs willing to engage in seeking compromise.

Business ‘Division’

Maya MacGuineas, a spokeswoman for Fix the Debt, said her group is designed to expire after the debt problem is solved, while the chamber and others will endure. Fix the Debt is an offshoot of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, a bipartisan group that backs deficit reduction and of which MacGuineas is president.

‘Club for Greed’

Adding to the rival business voices, Patriotic Millionaires, a group with more than 200 top-earning members, paid visits Nov. 14 and 15 to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, a California Democrat, Senator Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, and others. Their message: Tax us. We can take it.

Millions in Ads

The chamber spent more than $50 million on ads, most of them opposing Senate and House Democrats, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a Washington-based group that tracks political spending.

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