Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Big Business "Abandons" GOP

Hey, their words, not mine ...

But there’s more at work here. In many ways, Republicans have nobody but themselves to blame for turning the mutually beneficial and philosophically aligned relationship between corporations and GOP caucuses into little more than a transactional one, easily discarded at first evidence of a market disruption.

Republican leaders threatened a freeze-out of business lobbyists who dared hire a Democrat or ignored the names on the leadership’s private hiring tip sheet.

Pay-to-play became the insider mantra during the Republican reign. But “extortion” was how many CEOs described the annual shakedowns by committee chairmen with jurisdiction over their industries. No group expressed greater relief — privately and publicly — than the business community when the 2002 McCain-Feingold law banning unlimited corporate donations to politicians became law.

You don't hear it that often but frequently the people who want campaign finance reform are the folks who have (begrudgingly) supported the old system the most in the past. There are plenty of people out there who see their annual campaign contributions as a voluntary "tax" they need to pay to maintain some degree of influence and then remain utterly silent about it because saying something diminishes that influence.

One could argue that the K Street Project was the equivalent of communism in Washington's largest industry in two regards: (1.) it was an ambitious experiment to demand thought purity among and entire economy, in this cause to a political party (which was the government from 2002-2006), and (2.) it failed miserably.

The wholesale departure of big business funds shouldn't be surprising to people in politics. Big business tends to look at their contributions as an investment and not merely a contribution from a true believer. They'll want a return on that investment. The trick that Democrats will have to negotiate will be balancing the needs of their new supporters with those of their traditional allies in unions and the labor movement. The key to making both of those parties happy is health care -- some kind of plan that takes at least some of the burden to provide medical plans off of the employers. That could be the beginning of a relationship that would last a long time -- at least with manufacturers, businesses that may be subject to environmental regulation in the future may quickly tire of the greener arm of the Democratic party.

This is all taking place at the national level. I don't think very many people expect this to have an immediate trickle down effect to local and state politics at the moment. In other words, don't plan on seeing WMC leave the state GOP anytime soon.

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