Eduardo Porter writes today about the apparently waning influence of the business community on the Republican Party. They haven't gotten their way on immigration reform, or on halting the debt ceiling fiasco, or on increased infrastructure spending. A big chunk of the business community was in favor of Obamacare too, but that certainly didn't cut any ice with Republicans. So what's going on?
Ed Kilgore thinks the argument is overblown:
One of the most important corollaries of the "constitutional conservative" ideology that is at the heart of Tea Party activism is the virtual divinization of limited-government and absolute property-rights nostrums as fundamental to the enduring character of the country as blessed by the Founders, natural law, and Divine Providence.
To put it another way, the rightward trend in the GOP has given far more to corporate America in an unshakable commitment to its long-term interests than it has taken away in occasional revolts against the business-community "line" on individual issues like immigration reform. Add in the corporate influence on the Democratic Party that has been fed by the drift of professional elites in their direction and the need to compete with the GOP financially, and there are few grounds for legitimate complaints from board-rooms. Even if Corporate America does lose a few political battles, it is doing quite well in the war.
Yep. The business community has three big issues it cares deeply about: low taxes, reduced regulation, and the demise of labor unions. Those things overwhelm every other desire, and the Republican Party is satisfyingly adamantine on all of them. What's more, the tea-party-ized GOP is, if anything, even more rock solid on them. That's worth a lot.
On the flip side, I think it's easy to overstate just how important issues like immigration reform are to corporate America. Sure, they're generally in favor of it. But honestly, most of them don't care because it doesn't affect them much, and for the rest the status quo isn't really all that bad. They can live with it. Ditto for the debt ceiling, which they probably view as a periodic bit of DC lunacy that has minor short-term impacts but not much more. And infrastructure tends to be a local issue more than a national one. As long as the trains and trucks and planes are still rolling, things are OK.
It would be genuinely interesting to see what happened if there was a conflict between a core business interest and a core tea party interest. But I'm not sure there are any. The conflicts are all at the margins, where the business community isn't fighting all that hard in the first place. I'm not quite sure if there's anything on the horizons that could ignite a genuine war.