The Chamber gets it wrong, again


I have no problem with an organization that promotes networking and marketing, and advocates for area businesses.

I do have a problem with an organization that advances an anti-environment, anti-worker and subsequently, anti-community agenda. The Montana Chamber of Commerce does just that.

The Chamber’s most recent gaffe is it’s endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Greg Gianforte. From a story by MTN’s Mike Dennison:

“We think Gov. Bullock has done a good job; we think Greg Gianforte would do a great job,” says Webb Brown, president of the Montana Chamber of Commerce. “I think (business) folks recognize that he was a very successful entrepreneur and business person, and recognize that he understands how to get things done.”

They also like his proposals to eliminate the property tax on business equipment and roll back bothersome regulations.

Let’s roll back the business equipment tax, again, for the largest Montana corporations, and get rid of those burdensome public health, safety and employee rights regulations. Here’s the corporate tax burden as examined in a Billings Gazette editorial:

Two decades ago, Montana’s business equipment tax was well above 10 percent. It has been whittled down by bipartisan legislation. The most recent reduction was in 2013, which eliminated the tax for two-thirds of the Montana businesses that had been paying, and gave the remaining businesses a tax cut.

That law reduced the property tax on business equipment in two ways, reducing tax revenues about $9 million the first year. It exempted the first $100,000 worth of business equipment from taxes, up from $20,000. It also reduced the tax rate to 1.5 percent on the first $6 million worth of equipment. The previous tax rate was 2 percent on the first $2 million and 3 percent on the remaining value of equipment.

I wish I could get that kind of deal on my home property taxes.

In the recent past, the Montana Chamber of Commerce has come out against cutting greenhouse gas emissions. It’s against raising the minimum wage. It looks to the private sector (big insurance) as the solution to our failing health care system.

That’s why, when I was more involved in Missoula small businesses, I was active in the Sustainable Business Council. The SBC promoted buy local campaigns, energy audits, reducing waste and “creating a vibrant local economy built around sustainable practices.”

One thing the SBC did not do was get involved in electoral politics. After all, a sustainable economy and environment shouldn’t be a political issue. Apparently it is with the U.S. and Montana Chamber of Commerce. They’re agin ’em.

(I should mention that I have no bone to pick with my local Chamber. It does what I’ve mentioned at the top of this post — networking, marketing and advocating on behalf of area businesses — and it generally stays out of politics.)

The state and national Chamber, however, shill for the largest corporations to the detriment of any business concerned with the environment, their workers and long-range sustainability.

The Montana Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement of Gianforte is irresponsible on so many levels. Here’s just one more: incumbent governor Steve Bullock, who hasn’t been bad for business, is looking good for a second term. The wise move by the Chamber would be to keep its mouth shut.




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About the author

Pete Talbot

'Papa’ Pete Talbot is first and foremost a grandfather to five wonderful grandchildren. Like many Montanans, he has held numerous jobs over the years: film and video producer, a partner in a marketing and advertising firm, a builder and a property manager. He’s served on local and statewide Democratic Party boards. Pete has also been blogging at various sites for over a decade. Ping-pong and skiing are his favorite diversions. He enjoys bourbon.

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LKBillptalbotPat LueckPublius II Recent comment authors
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I call them the Chamber Pot of Commerce for a reason, a very valid reason!

Publius II
Publius II

CHAMBER POT INDEED LK, didn’t Chamber REMEMBER Bullock had big infrastructure Bill ready and thanks to TEABAGGERY, it failed? Now with Gianforte – tea party and believe in human-dino ‘Flinstone’ economy and history – will we EVER get an infrastructure bill?

Pat Lueck
Pat Lueck

“Bothersome regulations…?” yeah…anything we disagree with. When I had a small business, I loved to discombobulate the local Chamber of Commerce by speaking out for society as a whole and condemning their disguised right wing business tactics. Much fun.


Humm….so who do we buy into? I would love to hear how many of the AFL-CIO members buy into their endorsement. Gianforte/Robinson Land Endorsement from Montana Bankers Association Gianforte/Robinson Land Endorsement from Montana Realtors Montana Farm Bureau MONTANA BUILDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION ENDORSES GIANFORTE Another Prominent Gun Rights Group Endorses Gianforte, MT Shooting Sports Association Says Choice is Clear Montana AFL-CIO Announces Endorsements The Montana AFL-CIO has endorsed Governor Steve Bullock for re-election; Attorney General Tim Fox for re-election; Jesse Laslovich for State Auditor; Melissa Romano for Superintendent of Public Instruction; and State Auditor Monica Lindeen for Secretary of State. MEA-MFT… Read more »


Does the DNC have pictures or something of the union administrations?

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