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The basic deal between corporate America and the GOP is still alive

Robert B. Reich, Tribune Content Agency on

For four decades, the basic deal between big American corporations and politicians has been simple. Corporations provide campaign funds. Politicians reciprocate by lowering corporate taxes and doing whatever else corporations need to boost profits.

The deal has proven beneficial to both sides, although not to the American public. Campaign spending has soared while corporate taxes have shriveled.

In the 1950s, corporate taxes accounted for about 40 percent of federal revenue. Today, it’s a meager 7 percent. Last year, more than 50 of the largest U.S. companies paid no federal income taxes at all. Many haven’t paid taxes for years.

Both parties have been in on this deal, although the GOP has been the bigger player. Yet since Donald Trump issued his big lie about the fraudulence of the 2020 election, corporate America has had a few qualms about its deal with the GOP.

After the storming of the Capitol, dozens of giant corporations said they would no longer donate to the 147 Republican members of Congress who objected to the certification of Joe Biden electors on the basis of the big lie.

Then came the GOP’s recent wave of restrictive state voting laws, premised on the same big lie. Georgia’s are among the most egregious. The chief executive of Coca-Cola, headquartered in the Peach State, calls those laws “wrong” and “a step backward.” The CEO of Delta Airlines, Georgia’s largest employer, says they’re “unacceptable.” Major League Baseball decided to relocate its annual All-Star Game away from the home of the Atlanta Braves.

 

These criticisms have unleashed a rare firestorm of anti-corporate Republican indignation. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, warns corporations of unspecified “serious consequences” for speaking out. Republicans are moving to revoke Major League Baseball’s antitrust status. Georgia Republicans threaten to punish Delta Airlines by repealing a state tax credit for jet fuel.

“Why are we still listening to these woke corporate hypocrites on taxes, regulations & antitrust?” Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted.

Why? For the same reason Willie Sutton gave when asked why he robbed banks: That’s where the money is.

McConnell told reporters that corporations should “stay out of politics” but then qualified his remark: “I’m not talking about political contributions.” Of course not. Republicans have long championed “corporate speech” when it comes in the form of campaign cash — just not as criticism.

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