Whatever your opinion of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's evergreen battle with the plaintiffs bar, it's hard not to admire the metaphorical flourish of its latest advertising campaign.
A new Chamber site, TrialLawyerEarmarks.com, depicts a thicket of vines sprouting and strangling the U.S. Capitol. Each one represents a legislative front where the "trial lawyer agenda" is on the march.
Less metaphorically, the site acts as a clearinghouse for all the Chamber’s lawsuit-related legislative gripes. Anti-mandatory-arbitration legislation targeting the credit card industry, Consumer Product Safety Act reauthorization, and carve-outs on federal pre-emption it's all there, along with a dozen other bills.
"The out of control U.S. lawsuit system already costs the average American family of four $3,200 a year," the Chamber claims, extrapolating from a Towers Perrin study that counts the losses from tort litigation (though not the gains).
One thing that caught Influence's eye about the new media campaign is the Chamber's use of the word "earmarks" to describe non-monetary legislative provisions rather than congressionally directed funding for specific projects. Most of the objectionable items of legislation aren’t earmarks at all just measures that are allegedly of benefit to an interest group. Evidently, the Chamber hopes the term's stigma can rub off.