ChrisWeigant.com

Corporate America v. The GOP

[ Posted Wednesday, April 7th, 2021 – 16:09 UTC ]

To be clear, that title is pugilistic in nature, not legalistic. Not a courtroom lawsuit, in other words, but a boxing match. Because corporate America and the Republican Party seem to be at least preparing to trade some major blows. So far, it's all been just shadow boxing, but that could be about to change. This is a fairly major development, considering the long and close history between the two. Whether it becomes a full-blown punching match or not is going to depend on how far both sides are willing to go and what price they're willing to pay.

Many factors have led to this moment. The Me Too movement and Black Lives Matter both showed the power of having a righteous position and having large multitudes who support it. Women and Black people stood up and said: "Enough!" and by doing so have changed the political and social dynamic of the country. It can be argued to what degree of success each of these movements has so far achieved, but what is irrefutable is that they have, in fact, started changing things.

Social media played a big part in getting here, too. Movements that have few followers are not usually too successful in American politics. And showing the strength of your following was often extremely hard to do, even for groups with a lot of adherents. But now, communicating to such followers is easy and free, and communicating the group's power to others is just as simple as checking how many friends or followers or likes they get online.

All of this has led to the current atmosphere. Corporations are a lot more sensitive to consumer complaints these days, because one viral video of an employee badly mistreating a customer can suddenly seriously affect a company's bottom line. That is the power of mass communications being put at the disposal of the masses. But now this is also exposing all the backroom corridors of political power, which is a lot harder to fix than firing a few lowly misbehaving employees and holding a training day for the rest of them. Because the real truth being exposed by all the Republican-versus-corporations skirmishes is just how much political power corporate entities truly have -- and how they routinely use such power.

The system as it stands is beneficial to both Republicans and the corporations, which is why it has flourished for so long. Corporations donate lots and lots of money to the Republican Party and individual GOP politicians -- at both the federal and state levels. In exchange, the politicians take corporate interests into account when drafting legislation. The most obvious example is that both entities are sworn adherents of lower taxes for corporations. This way, investing tens of millions in campaign donations results in billions in savings for the corporation -- a pretty good deal, for both sides. But both sides of this previous arrangement are now on the brink of being weaponized.

The first flexing of financial muscles happened after the failed insurrection attempt on January 6th. Roughly 150 Republicans in Congress voted to overturn a fair and certified presidential election. And corporate boardrooms had to face the fact that they supported these same politicians with lots of campaign cash. So they fired a warning shot over the GOP's bow -- there would be a six-month moratorium on all donations to the Republicans who had voted in favor of this coup attempt. No more corporate cash for you, boys and girls, instead you will be put in a "timeout" for half a year.

What the corporations obviously wanted out of this arrangement was a little good press, followed by the public and the media losing interest and forgetting about the story so that, a half a year later, everything could just go back to normal. After all, these six months are at the very beginning of the two-year election cycle, so it would do the least damage to limit contributions right now. The public would approve, but then not notice when the gravy train got back on track, later on.

The problem for corporate America is that Republicans are still pushing Donald Trump's "Big Lie." They are using the false and delusional idea that Trump somehow won the election (he didn't) to enact a wave of voter-suppression laws in statehouses around the country. For corporate America, this was a complication they really didn't want to have to face.

What's instructive is not just that large Georgia corporations denounced the new voter-suppression law after it was signed, but what happened before that, and what happened afterwards. A lot of the attention has been on Major League Baseball pulling the All-Star Game out of Atlanta, but what Delta openly admitted to was even more interesting.

The first corporate response to the new law from Delta tried to paint it as a good thing, or (at the very least) a not-so-bad thing. Here was their entire statement, issued right after the bill passed:

Delta believes that full and equal access to voting is a fundamental right for all citizens. Over the past several weeks, Delta engaged extensively with state elected officials in both parties to express our strong view that Georgia must have a fair and secure election process, with broad voter participation and equal access to the polls. The legislation signed this week improved considerably during the legislative process, and expands weekend voting, codifies Sunday voting and protects a voter's ability to cast an absentee ballot without providing a reason. For the first time, drop boxes have also been authorized for all counties statewide and poll workers will be allowed to work across county lines. Nonetheless, we understand concerns remain over other provisions in the legislation, and there continues to be work ahead in this important effort. We are committed to continuing to listen to our people and our communities, and engage with leaders from both parties to ensure every eligible employee and Georgia voter can exercise their right to vote.

This was widely seen as going nowhere near far enough, and it was ridiculed mercilessly online. When they realized the size of the backlash, the head of Delta appeared on many news shows denouncing the law in much stronger language. The company then put out a much less rosy review of the law, which said (in part):

Last week, the Georgia legislature passed a sweeping voting reform act that could make it harder for many Georgians, particularly those in our Black and Brown communities, to exercise their right to vote.

Since the bill's inception, Delta joined other major Atlanta corporations to work closely with elected officials from both parties, to try and remove some of the most egregious measures from the bill. We had some success in eliminating the most suppressive tactics that some had proposed.

However, I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta's values.

The right to vote is sacred. It is fundamental to our democracy and those rights not only need to be protected, but easily facilitated in a safe and secure manner.

After having time to now fully understand all that is in the bill, coupled with discussions with leaders and employees in the Black community, it's evident that the bill includes provisions that will make it harder for many underrepresented voters, particularly Black voters, to exercise their constitutional right to elect their representatives. That is wrong.

The entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread voter fraud in Georgia in the 2020 elections. This is simply not true. Unfortunately, that excuse is being used in states across the nation that are attempting to pass similar legislation to restrict voting rights.

You'll note that in both of these, Delta freely admits to pressuring the politicians to rewrite the law. They thought they had succeeded, since the worst ideas (such as a direct attack on Sunday "souls to the polls" voting) didn't make it into the final bill. They figured that was good enough. Either that, or their political clout only extended so far -- they could only convince the Republicans to jettison the worst of their ideas, but not the merely bad ones.

To put it in its simplest form: Delta spoke, Republicans changed the bill. Nowhere near enough, but Delta figured it was good enough for them. And not just Delta, but other large corporations in Georgia (Coca-Cola, etc.). I use Delta as an example here only because they left a paper trail of press releases.

So what did the Republicans do, in retaliation for getting called out by Delta? They hastily moved to get rid of a fuel tax credit worth tens of millions of dollars a year to Delta. In other words, when the corporation supported a political position Republicans didn't like, they didn't hesitate to try to punish Delta, in direct and unmistakable fashion.

You can call all of this "pay to play" or "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" or whatever you want, but it blatantly exposes the deal that corporate America has with Republican politicians (and, sadly, with not a few Democrats, too): campaign cash for tax breaks. It's a simple equation to follow, especially since both sides are now using their leverage as a weapon in such public fashion. It's pretty hard to ignore, in other words.

Will both sides step back from this brink? Probably. Because it really is a symbiotic relationship. If corporate America and the Republican Party wage open warfare in the ideological arena, after all, then all of those campaign contributions will dry up (leaving Republicans without money to get elected), and all of the tax breaks will disappear (since Democrats aren't likely to reinstate them any time soon). Both sides have a lot to lose, in other words.

This is why I wonder how far all this will go. So far, I haven't heard any of the Georgia corporations come right out and promise that they'll never donate to any Republican who voted for this law ever again -- unless and until it is repealed. That would have some real clout, but to date I am unaware of such a pledge from Delta, or Coca-Cola, or UPS or any of the others. They're probably hoping this will all largely blow over, so the GOP and corporate America can quietly get back into bed with each other, a few months down the road. The fuel tax bill didn't pass (it was the very end of the legislative session, they ran out of time), so we'll see whether it comes back up in the future or also quietly goes away.

The interesting thing to me is how much that was previously hidden away in back rooms and executive suites is now being publicly admitted and discussed. Corporations are writing our laws, to some degree or another. This isn't just donating to one politician or another, it is raw political power being exercised as a result of all those donations. This goes on all the time, of course, but rarely is it exposed (or admitted to) in such dramatic fashion. But you know what? These corporations should be held publicly accountable for what they have been enabling all along. A corporation that makes a benign product shouldn't be able to hide behind its supposed wholesomeness while actively acquiescing in the dismantling of our democracy. They should be held account, precisely so that they in turn will hold the politicians they have purchased to account, as well. There is more at stake here than just some sweetheart corporate tax deals, to put this another way, and it is now time to choose sides in this fight.

But personally, I think a lot of the current dustup is no more than bluster, meant for public consumption but without the substance that would really back it up. Because if corporations are going to continue to give free cash to politicians who voted to overturn an election or voted to suppress the vote in the next election, then it really won't matter which side is seen to have won the public relations battle in the meantime -- it'll be right back to business as usual. And politics as usual, too.

However, if the war escalates dramatically, there is a small chance that the close relationship between corporate America and the Republican Party is about to undergo a major upheaval. I don't think we're anywhere near that point yet, but now at least the possibility of such a breakup does indeed exist. And that's a notable change right there, so it'll definitely be worth watching over the course of the next few months.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

27 Comments on “Corporate America v. The GOP”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    And, corporate America is, by and large, pretty okie dokie with raising the corporate tax rate, too.

    With any luck, they'll be the ones who finally put an end to the nonsense of the GOP tax and fiscal policy and the Republican cult of economic failure. Stranger things have already happened.

    By the way, the province of Ontario is entering Stay-At-Home order number 3 of the pandemic tonight at midnight for four weeks. Good luck to us all!

  2. [2] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Interesting piece. The next step is to include the Democrats in the puzzle.

    If the conservative, more business-friendly Republican party is going off the rails to reinstate Jim Crow type voter restrictions for likely Democratic voters, and going off the rails to support the idea that a losing party in an election can use state power to cancel or reverse the election, does that mean that mainstream corporate America is going to have to turn away, and look around for more Democratic friends to pass the business-friendly legislation it feels it has a right to expect?

    But is that a likely result? The Democratic Party is hardly anti-business in any kind of socialist sense. But lately, especially this spring under the New Deal-redux Biden administration, the party has become more critical of business and seems almost eerily more willing to raise taxes on large corporations, on their shell companies and offshore tax shelters, and on the wealthy class of corporate owners. (Not that they're hoisting anyone to the lampposts: their proposed corporate tax rate of 28% to pay for the infrastructure bill is still quite a bit lower than it was before the Republicans cut corporate taxes almost in half in 2017.)

    Will the Dems under Biden and the Congress really swing back rightwards to 'capture' such an influential and wealthy sector as it reels away from Republican neo-fascism and its incoherent populist mania? I can't see it. Which leaves the corporate class out in the cold - I mean, alone in the political center-right which no major party currently represents. Maybe they'll start their own third party!

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    What would they call it?

  4. [4] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    i realize i'm in the minority here on this, but i don't think it will help to raise the corporate tax rate. really i don't think the structure of taxing corporations a lot but their shareholders barely at all is very productive. don't tax the corporations, tax the owners.

  5. [5] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    "and, sadly, with not a few Democrats, too"

    Understatement of the century.

    So Georgia corporations not giving Republikillers (and the not few Deathocrats) contributions would have some real clout.

    And apparently citizens should somehow hold corporations accountable so corporations will hold politicians accountable.

    How are we supposed to do that?

    Maybe we can get the politicians to pass a law that says all products must contain a list of all the corporation's political positions so that we will know whether or not we want to buy those products.

    While we wait for that to happen we may as well try cutting out the middleman and actually holding the politicians accountable for participating in the corrupt corporate campaign financing scheme by refusing to vote for candidates that take big money.

    You know- democracy.

    It seems much more efficient than waiting for the politicians to pass legislation requiring political labeling of products so that we can use that information to pressure the corporations to pressure the politicians to do the right thing that the corporations don't care about doing unless they feel it will hurt them financially and politicians that take big money don't want to do unless- wait for it-
    IT COSTS THEM VOTES.

    Wake up. Wise up. Rise up.
    Get Real.
    Get Credible.

  6. [6] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    John M-
    Will Biden and the Deathocrats swing back rightwards?

    Back from where?

    They don't have to swing back- they never "left".

    Didn't they just finish swinging back on 15 dollars?

    This repeats a pattern that has been going on for decades and is unlikely to change as long as the Deathocrats do not pay a price for it in the voting booth.

    For example, Nancy Pelosi early on in her career campaigned on holding a floor vote for Medicare for all. Her tune changed after elected and she gained a little power.

    And AOC just did the same thing.

    But this time they won't pull the football out just before we kick it- right?

  7. [7] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    correction (6)-
    ...and is unlikely to change as long the Deathocrats do not pay a price for it in the voting booth that does not involve replacing them with Republikillers or other big money candidates.

  8. [8] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Corporate America wants a pliable Federal Government. Two Parties relying on campaign contributions are more pliable than a one party system where politicians don’t need to raise money to hold political power. Corporate America is doing what is in its best interest when it keeps elections both semi competitive and expensive. Corporate Cancel Culture....the Cancel Culture with real clout.

  9. [9] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    who needs cancel culture when you have pie culture?

  10. [10] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    So now the death cult zombies find themselves in opposition to major league baseball and Coca-Cola. What's next? Mom? Apple pie?

  11. [11] 
    TheStig wrote:

    Pie Iesu Domine Dona eis requim.

  12. [12] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    AOC continues to follow in Pelosi's footsteps.

    Apparently AOC just donated to the campaigns of several Deathocrats that oppose medicare for all.

    Was she trying to buy a change on their position or just setting up her credentials to be a fundraiser extraordinaire?

  13. [13] 
    nypoet22 wrote:
  14. [14] 
    nypoet22 wrote:

    @jfc,

    well, if they do come out against apple pie, i think it's time to cut them loose. mom? well......

    :D

  15. [15] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Don [12]-

    Did you check some real journalistic sources to get the full story or did you just let Jimmy Dore think for you?

    The real story is she has a beef with the DCCC for not properly funding progressive candidates. Because she is popular, she is a fund raising machine and decided to donate to many of the democratic house members independently. The more centrist members are annoyed because now they have to defend an AOC donation. But at least she understands how politics works and the importance of keeping the house in hopes of getting more Senate seats so major legislation can get passed after 2022...

  16. [16] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Bashi,

    My money is on Door #2, but I don't Jimmy thinks much. He lies on autopilot.

  17. [17] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Bashi-
    Oh. She was upset the DCCC wasn't properly funding progressive candidates so she gave money to centrist candidates.

    She is a fundraising machine and understands how politics works.

    She understands that campaign promises of forcing a vote for medicare all don't matter after elected as long as you are a fundraising machine for the party.

    Pelosi II.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

  18. [18] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    JFC-
    Jimmy is not perfect, but still has much more credibility than CW.

  19. [19] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Jimmy is not perfect, but still has much more credibility than CW.

    In your dreams... A loud mouth, tell you what you want to hear Alex Jones of the left is no match for the well researched columns of CW.

    But hey, why don't you reach out and hound him? Maybe he will let you on his show. OK zero chance of that, but your batting average won't change...

  20. [20] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    Jimmy is not perfect

    You got that right. He's an unfunny comedian who apparently took a look at Sean Hannity and/or Alex Jones and said to himself, "Hey, I can do that!"

    The fact that you buy his snake oil makes you a poor judge of character and unfit to judge credibility.

  21. [21] 
    James T Canuck wrote:

    Hmm...

    Then now's the time to strike if you're the Democrats. Convince corporate America that in the long run, they are the more bankable asset.

    Things aren't going to change with Republicans, except for the worse, again. Their ranks are dwindling as the Reagan-era optimists trickle down off this mortal coil.

    Their voter suppression will backfire resoundingly, again. Democrats hate being out-voted (see 2016 and '20).

    How long can the GOP go on emulating Trump and the Dumpster-Kids antics before it becomes a complete and utter farce.

    Here's how you fix everyone's wagon in my view-- Because elections are big business and therefore the cash is needed, have it be a publicly overseen slush-fund given equally to both sides (or more...hadn't forgotten about the Judean Peoples Popular front)-- or -- Have corporate America publically choose sides so people can pick and choose like a Chinese takeaway menu--or lastly-- banish them totally and make them all go Bernie with small donations only.

    For Matt Gaetz...

    From the window of your rented limousine
    I caught your pretty blue eyes...

    One day soon you're gonna reach sixteen
    Painted lady in the city of lies...

    Clutching pages from your teenage dream in the lobby of the Hotel Paradise...

    Through the circus of the L.A. Queens, how fast you learn the downhill slide...

    Fucking shirt-lifter.

    LL&L

  22. [22] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    19, 20-
    You think I only work on CW and Ralph Nader?

    Like I said, Jimmy is not perfect.

    Alex Jones of the left?

    You are delusional.

    Jimmy Dore is just as well researched as CW.

    He does the same thing to Deathocrats that CW does to Republikillers.

    The difference is that Jimmy Dore does not use it as an excuse to support Republikillers while CW uses it to spew corporate Deathocrat propaganda.

    And after all, it's not the size of the research- it's how you use it that determines credibility.

    But since you can't make an argument that will stick like CW spewing corporate Deathocrat propaganda you resort to trying to demonize Jimmy Dore by making a ridiculous comparison to Hannity or Jones.

    Also not something that bolsters your credibility.

  23. [23] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    JTC,

    Then now's the time to strike if you're the Democrats. Convince corporate America that in the long run, they are the more bankable asset.

    That SHOULDN'T be a problem ...

  24. [24] 
    Don Harris wrote:

    Now is the time for Deathocrats to convince corporations they are the more bankable asset?

    Even if they could do that they would then have quite a time keeping it secret and/or convincing voters that it is a good thing that makes Deathocrats worth voting for.

    Didn't really think that one through, did you?

    But that is not what the big money interests want. They are perfectly happy dividing their money between the two sides of the deception so that voters only have a false choice between two big money candidates.

    If one of those parties goes under the deception doesn't work.

    Now is the time for voters to "strike". If the Republikillers are not getting the corporate money then the Deathocrats no longer have their moosepoop excuse for taking big money.

    So voters should go on strike in the voting booth now for 2022 and demand the Deathocrats run small donor campaigns.

  25. [25] 
    TheStig wrote:

    NY-13

    You wascal.

  26. [26] 
    BashiBazouk wrote:

    Don,

    Yikes! What's up with derogatory word salad?

  27. [27] 
    Kick wrote:

    Bashi|JFC

    Your batting average won't change!
    Door #2!

    I just want you both to know that I see what y'all did there, and I can't stop laughing. :)

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