Relationships don’t always last forever. As with friendships, neighbors, employment, and even marriages, sadly, longstanding political bonds can be severed. Today, the supposed “marriage” between big business and the Republican Party seems on the rocks. It might even be in a slow-motion breakup.
A recent Wall Street Journal article recounts the growing rift between the GOP and big business. Republican leaders are more willing to criticize corporations, Republican lawmakers are proposing more legislation regulating business, and the GOP is becoming less and less dependent on corporate donations.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida fired back at Republican critics of his efforts to rein in big businesses, calling them “corporatists.”
DeSantis signed legislation May 2 that prohibited state agencies and local governments from considering Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors when issuing bonds, barred banks from considering “social credit” when making loan decisions and prohibited discrimination on the basis of political, social or religious ideology. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley and former President Donald Trump have criticized DeSantis, a potential 2024 candidate for the Republican presidential nomination, over the feud with Disney that started after DeSantis signed parental rights legislation in March 2022 over the company’s opposition.
The results of the 2022 midterms will be dissected endlessly. But among the political ramifications is a very important question for American business executives: With Big Business increasingly involved in political debates (and usually taking sides against Republicans), how will the relationship between the two change under a new GOP House majority?
One answer is that companies should be ready for a wake-up call. This Republican majority will be more populist and less deferential to massive corporations than any that has come to power in the past. Never has the disconnect between executives, employees, and customers been so apparent.
The Coalition For The American Dream, a group composed of 80 businesses, called for lawmakers to pass legislation to prevent deportation of recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program after it was declared illegal.
The letter’s signatories, which include Amazon, Apple, General Motors, Microsoft, Target and Verizon as well as trade associations like the Chamber of Commerce, asked lawmakers to pass permanent, bipartisan legislative solutions to prevent the migrants from being deported, claiming the migrants provided economic value to the U.S. DACA, implemented by the Obama administration in 2012, allows immigrants who entered the country illegally and have been in the U.S. since they were children to stay in the country and gain work authorization, a process that is renewed every two years; however, the program was declared illegal by the 5th Circuit Court on Oct. 5.
America is currently in the midst of a broader political realignment. The political Left, which once upon a time purported to stand for the forgotten “little guy” against the titans of Big Business, has in recent years decided that Big Business is actually an ally of convenience in its long Gramsci-an “march” through the institutions. Chris Rufo has perhaps demonstrated this trend better than anyone else.
And the political Right, whose once-instinctive neoliberal proclivities made it a convenient ally for Big Business, is currently rethinking its approach to political economy in general, as well as its specific relationship to culturally leftist multinational corporations. The most tangible recent expression of this rethinking has been Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis’ crippling punishment of The Walt Disney Company for its coming out on behalf of sexually grooming innocent children in the Sunshine State.
America’s top financial regulator issued climate disclosure rules that are more burdensome for smaller companies than large companies, according to the agency’s own analysis.
While the rules would cost large corporations $640,000 at first and $530,000 in subsequent years, they would cost smaller publicly-traded companies $490,000 initially and $420,000 in following years, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said in its proposal. The regulator’s analysis suggests that smaller companies would feel a relatively larger financial burden as a result of the proposed disclosure rules.
President Joe Biden’s competition and antitrust executive order will harm American consumers, groups representing both large and small businesses said.
The leading groups — including the Chamber of Commerce, Job Creators Network (JCN) and the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) — slammed Biden’s executive order, arguing that it will harm competition and present a host of challenges to small businesses. The business groups said the order is an example of big government attempting to exert control over the free market via onerous rules and regulations.
“This executive order amounts to a bizarre declaration against American businesses, from the largest to the smallest,” Small Business and Entrepreneurship (SBE) Council Chief Economist Raymond Keating said in a statement. “It’s hard to understand why a White House would go down such a path, especially as the economy is digging out from the COVID-19 disaster.”
During the 2019 shareholder season, Justin Danhof, general counsel for the National Center for Public Policy Research, tabled a shareholder proposal at Amazon’s annual meeting. “Diversity in board composition is best achieved though highly qualified candidates with a wide range of skills, experience, beliefs, and board independence from management,” it read. Uncontroversial, one might think, but Danhof was booed and heckled throughout his presentation. Afterward, a representative for Arjuna Capital (which “works with high net-worth individuals,” its website says) told Danhof that he was simply trying “to protect white males.” A representative of the Nathan Cummings Foundation (with $424 million of cash and investments, on its most recent balance sheet) made clear that Danhof was unwelcome and should hasten, lest he be late for his next Klan meeting or book burning.