If there's one message that will strike a nerve with voters at the polls in three weeks, it's the economy – specifically jobs – a focus that this administration has been trying hard to deflect in recent days.
The midterm election rhetoric ramped up last week when the White House went after the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations. The chamber has been an opponent of President Obama's policies in the past, including his health care.
Last week, it was Obama himself accusing the Chamber of using foreign money to push its domestic political activism without having to disclose the funding sources. David Axelrod, a top Obama adviser, said on CBS's "Face the Nation" Sunday that secret political donations to the chamber and other groups pose "a threat to our democracy."
Nonprofit tax exempt groups, such as the chamber, are not required to reveal their contributors. Chamber officials deny that foreign funds are used in its election efforts, and are accusing Democrats of mounting a smear campaign in a last-ditch attempt to rally their supporters.
On Monday, Obama and the president's pit bull, Vice President Joe Biden, repeated the attacks during their respective stops in Philadelphia and Scranton. Also, the liberal group MoveOn.org began airing an ad in Illinois against Senate candidate Mark Kirk, using his support from the chamber to link him to foreign corporations that "threaten American jobs," according to the ad.
The White House has provided absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing. One thing we won't hear from Democrats is that many left-leaning groups, including labor unions, have also been known to raise money outside of the country.
Richard L. Hasen, an expert on election law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, states that the potential for impropriety exists with any organization that accepts funds that would be illegal if spent on politics.
"The problem is not that the (Obama) allegation is not a big deal," said Hasen. "The problem is that the allegation is not backed by any facts."
James Bopp, an election lawyer who has argued for fewer restrictions in campaign finance laws, said the administration's attacks show "the irony of a president who promised to bring us to higher standard who now has gone to the lowest possible standard."
One "lowest possible standard" is this administration's attempt to pick a fight with a nationwide organization in which more than 96 percent of its members are small businesses with 100 employees or fewer.
The mission statement of the Chamber of Commerce is "to advance human progress through an economic, political and social system based on individual freedom, incentive, initiative, opportunity, and responsibility."
Trying to deflect the high U.S. unemployment numbers by tying Republicans to interests outside the nation is simply an attempt by Democrats to distract voters. By attempting to get Republicans to swing at a pitch in the dirt on a baseless charge, this administration is in danger of alienating even more voters, and threatening to turn this mid-term election into more of a GOP blowout than many political analysts are predicting.
By Jim Zbick