Friday, October 22, 2010


I don't expect teabaggers to be upset that large corporations are buying the election -- right-wingers love capitalism; what they hate is government giving money to corporations; secondarily, they get angry at corporations for taking that money. So I think there's only one company name in today's New York Times story on the Chamber of Commerce that might upset 'baggers in any way:

Prudential Financial sent in a $2 million donation last year as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce kicked off a national advertising campaign to weaken the historic rewrite of the nation’s financial regulations.

Dow Chemical delivered $1.7 million to the chamber last year as the group took a leading role in aggressively fighting proposed rules that would impose tighter security requirements on chemical facilities.

And Goldman Sachs, Chevron Texaco, and Aegon, a multinational insurance company based in the Netherlands, donated more than $8 million in recent years to a chamber foundation that has been critical of growing federal regulation and spending....

More recently, the News Corporation gave $1 million to support the chamber's political efforts this fall....

... tax filings show that seven donors gave the foundation at least $17 million between 2004 and 2008, about two-thirds of the total raised.

These donors include Goldman Sachs, Edward Jones, Alpha Technologies, Chevron Texaco and Aegon....

I'm amused to see Goldman on the list, because of this moment involving the Chamber's best-known celebrity fund-raiser:

The Tea Party's chief theologian is [Glenn] Beck, the cable-TV personality whose rise has mirrored the movement's. Beck's world is full of demons, but the devil that enraged the sold-out crowd in a ballroom at the Atlantic City Hilton on Aug. 5 wasn't Obama or even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. "Give the money to the people!" Beck shouted to a packed room of around 1,500. "Give us our money back -- not to Goldman Sachs!..."

That passage comes from a Bloomberg BusinessWeek story that ran a couple of weeks ago called "Why Business Doesn't Trust the Tea Party." I think the story oversells the wariness somewhat, but it certainly makes it clear that business and the teabaggers don't all want the same things -- and in a battle like that, who do you think is going to win in the long run?

... [The tea party agenda] may sound like a corporate dream come true -- as long as the corporation in question doesn't have international operations, rely on immigrant labor, see the value of national monetary policy, or find itself in need of a subsidy to boost exports or an emergency loan from the Fed to survive the worst recession in seven decades. Business leaders who favor education reform, immigration reform, or investment in infrastructure can likely say goodbye to those ideas for the short term as well; they won't be possible in the willfully gridlocked world of the coming 112th Congress.

... The Tea Party's brand of political nitroglycerin, in short, is too unstable for businesses that look to government for predictability, moderation, and the creation of a stable economic environment. "A lot of the agenda is being driven by the extremes," says John Castellani, the former head of the Business Roundtable who left in July to take the helm of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). "This kind of extremism makes it much harder to plan from a business perspective." ...

Even the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ... has kept its distance from many Tea Party candidates. The Chamber ... says it plans to spend at least $75 million in this election cycle. So far, most of the money has gone to Republicans not closely associated with the Tea Party, such as former Hewlett-Packard (HPQ) Chief Executive Officer Carly Fiorina in California and former U.S. Trade Representative Rob Portman in Ohio. The Chamber has endorsed Rand Paul, the Tea Party-backed U.S. Senate candidate in Kentucky, and former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, an early Tea Party favorite who is running for the U.S. Senate in Florida and is distancing himself from his Tea Party roots....

It's a small matter, but I was really surprised to learn that the South Carolina Chamber is endorsing the Democratic opponent of Sarah Palin glass slipper recipient Nikki Haley in the governor's race.

I'm not saying big business's agenda is less right-wing than the tea party's, but it's right-wing in a different way. And the Chamber's ultimately going to prevail, coopting a lot of these folks and shocking the poor, naive, idealistic teabag back-benchers who think really they're going to take part in a small-government, tricorn-hat revolution.

Of course, this isn't really going to create a conservative crack-up -- the fat cats' pet newbies and establishment Republicans are just going to gin up a lot of investigations and witch-hunts and other distractions to keep the rank-and-file mollified. Military adventurism will probably be demanded. You know the drill.

So maybe things aren't going to change all that much -- they're not going to get truly teabaggy, they're just going to get extremely Reaganesque. That's not great, but it'll be familiar.

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