Sort by

A Coming Battle Between Business and the Right?

David Callahan

One article of faith in contemporary political life is that conservatives side with business and progressives are far less friendly to the private sector. 

In many ways, this is true -- judging by the battle lines in Washington, where groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses nearly always back the Republican Party. 

But events of the past few years should force a rethinking of whether the right really is advancing business interests. In particular, the GOP's extremist anti-tax ideology increasingly makes it hard for Congress to govern and poses a growing threat to economic stability. We saw that most vividly in the debt ceiling debate, when Republican brinksmanship nearly forced the federal government to default. 

As I have noted often, the anti-tax extremism of the today's conservative movement doesn't represent the views of mainstream corporate America or Wall Street. Many people in both these worlds are more pragmatic than ideological. They understand that taxes have to go up and don't object to paying a little more.

Rather, the GOP's crazy tax views are representative of a base of voters, donors, and activists heavily populated by libertarians, as well as powerful interest groups that speak for these folks such as Americans for Tax Reform and the Club for Growth. 

I have long wondered when we'll see a face-off between a largely pragmatic business community, and its putative Republican allies in Washington. Well, according to Politico, that faceoff could be coming this fall. As Ben White writes today in Morning Money:

In multiple conversations recently, top corporate executives have indicated to M.M. that following the election (and no matter the outcome) they will push hard for a broad tax and spending deal in Washington that will take the threat of the fiscal cliff off the table even if it means significant new revenues. The executives have said their efforts could help offer cover to Republicans afraid of signing onto any deal that might anger hard-core tea party leaders or anti-tax advocates such as Grover Norquist. "We don't really care if our taxes go up a little if we can just get this done and take this threat away from the economy," one top executive at a Fortune 100 company told MM this week.

These executives say either an Obama II or Romney administration could enlist them to sell a deal both inside and outside the Beltway. They all suggest the final package will look something like Simpson-Bowles.