Entries in Chamber of Commerce (4)


Report: Chinese Hackers Breached US Chamber of Commerce's Servers

Brendan Hoffman/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- It would appear that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has more to worry about than the current state of the economy and its constant battles with the Obama administration.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday morning that Chinese hackers managed to finagle their way into the Chamber’s computer servers and compromised the sensitive information of three million of its members, virtually gaining access to everything stored on the systems.

The hackers took about six week’s worth of emails from four employees working on Asian policy, according to the Journal, before the operation was shut down in May 2010.

Two people familiar with the top business-lobbying group’s internal probe say the Chinese hackers might have had free reign of the Chamber’s computer servers for up to a year before the FBI informed officials about the breach.

One of the suspected culprits is believed to be linked to the Chinese government, the Journal said.

Meanwhile, Geng Shuang, spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Washington, denied that China was behind the hacking scheme, saying that its accusers “lack proof and evidence.”  Shuang claimed that cyber attackers are outlawed in his country and that China has also been a victim.

Since the breach, the Chamber of Commerce has bolstered its detection equipment and forbids employees from taking portable devices to certain countries, including China.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Tax Reform Game: How Low Will Obama Go?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a speech to the Chamber of Commerce on Monday, President Obama vowed to boost the country's competitiveness and cut corporate taxes, but he gave few hints about how he would reform the tax code.

While lawmakers are just starting the long road to simplifying the tax code, the president said he wants to reform taxes without raising the $14 trillion deficit.

"I am eager to work with both parties and with the Chamber to take additional steps across the budget to put our nation on sounder fiscal footing," the president said.

Reforming the tax code, however, is sure to be a complicated process -- from lowering corporate taxes to closing loopholes.  Lawmakers are not sure exactly where to begin.

"There are different levels in the debate right now," said Scott Hodge, president of The Tax Foundation.  "At the forefront, there is growing recognition that the U.S. corporate tax rate is too high and needs to be cut to make the U.S. more competitive.  The president acknowledged that in the State of the Union Address."

The U.S. corporate tax rate will be the highest of the 34 countries in The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development when Japan lowers its corporate tax rate this year, according to Eric Toder, co-director of the Tax Policy Center.  The rate, 35 percent, is 39 percent when including average state corporate taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center.

However, federal taxes are at their lowest level since 1950 by some measures, and many companies are able to dodge taxes entirely or pay very little.  A report from the Government Accountability Office found that two-thirds of U.S. companies, or 1.3 million businesses, did not pay federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005.

Hodge said most companies were waiting with "bated breath" to see if the president would announce specific proposals during the speech to the Chamber of Commerce, but he did not expect Obama to highlight specific tax breaks.  Hodge said he was hoping to hear how low the president believes corporate tax rate needs to for the country to be competitive globally.

Instead of divulging details, the president called for reforming the "burdensome corporate tax rate" and a fairer distribution of taxes.  He said some industries' tax burdens are four or five times higher than other industries and that companies are making too many decisions based on their tax implications.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Calls for Shared Responsibility at Chamber of Commerce

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Joking that he was just trying to be more “neighborly,” President Obama Monday spoke just a stone’s throw away from the White House at the Chamber of Commerce, hoping to repair some of the strained ties the administration and the business community.

“Maybe if we -- if we had brought over a fruitcake when I first moved in, we would have gotten off to a better start,’ Obama joked, “But I'm going to make up for it.

The president of course was visiting the Chamber of Commerce Monday, the first visit of his administration, was to help repair the relationship with big business. Noting that they have had some “pretty strong disagreements,” the president said that he is convinced that they can still work together.

“Whatever differences we may have, I know that all of us share a deep, abiding belief in this country, a belief in our people, a belief in the principles that have made America's economy the envy of the world,” the president said, “And we have to do this together; business and government, workers and CEOs, Democrats and Republicans."

The president said that in realistic terms pro-business and pro-labor are never going to be the closest of friends, but regardless there can be some common-ground found.

“The fact is, the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO don't agree on a whole lot. Tom Donohue and Richard Trumka are not Facebook friends,” Obama said, “but they agree on the need to build a 21st- century infrastructure.”

Departing from his prepared remarks, the president called for deficit reduction through dealing with entitlement spending.

“That's going to require both parties to work together, because those are some tough problems that we're going to have so solve. And I am eager to work with both parties and with the Chamber to take additional steps across the budget to put our nation on a sounder fiscal footing."

The president promised to remove those “outdated and unnecessary” and “burdensome” regulations. But -- he fiercely defended government regulations.

The president also used past examples of standards which had been proposed in the past, and deemed an “assault on business and free enterprise,” such as the early dug companies arguing the bill creating the FDA would destroy other sale of remedies in the U.S., and that auto executive predicated installing seat belts would bring the downfall of their industry.

The president said, like the financial crisis, the absence of regulations is often more dangerous than too much.

“We have to recognize that some commonsense regulations often will make sense for your businesses as well as your families as well as your neighbors as well as your coworkers."

He called on the American companies holding the $2 trillion on their balance sheets, to get off the sidelines and expand.

“We're in this together,” Obama said, “I just want to encourage you to get in the game.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Chamber of Commerce ‘Joined’ with WH on Economic Priorities

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After a testy two year relationship between President Obama and big business, the White House is hoping for a fresh start with the president making a series of pro-business moves as he gets set to address the Chamber of Commerce next month.

In an interview with ABC News Friday, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said that reports of tension have always overlooked the “coordination and cooperation” with the business community since the president first took office.

“More recently that engagement has been amplified, and look at the great success the that president has had with the business community,” Locke said. “We're really seeing that the president [is] amplifying and focusing on a priority from day one, which is getting our economy moving again and that really involves selling more of ‘Made in USA’ goods and services.”

“Actually there’s been a lot of areas in which the administration and the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable and business community have joined together,” Locked added. “So we're really looking at the programs and policies where we can join together to help move the economy along. Because, obviously, over nine percent unemployment is unacceptable, and the president has said that as long as a person is still looking for a job, our work in the administration is not done.”

Despite tensions -- the Chamber opposed the health care law and financial regulatory reform, among other Obama initiatives -- “there really is a lot of common agreement between the Chamber and the administration,” Locke said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio