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Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Is Business Losing Control of the GOP?

The role of money in politics may have more to do with the growing wealth of chief executives than anything else:

Business Losing Clout in a G.O.P. Moving Right, by Eduardo Porter, NY Times: How did corporate America lose control of the Republican Party? From overhauling immigration laws to increasing spending on the nation’s aging infrastructure, big business leaders have seemed relatively powerless lately as the uncompromising Republicans they helped elect have steadfastly opposed some of their core legislative priorities.
The rift is not only unusual in light of the tight historical alignment between the business community and the G.O.P., but it is also outright incomprehensible after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed companies to spend unlimited amounts from their corporate treasuries... But what may be most surprising is how reluctant big business has been to put its money on the line. ...
That argument can be carried only so far, however. Jacob S. Hacker, a political scientist from Yale, said that the idea of a rift opening between businesses and the “party of business” was overstated. ...
And even if corporations didn’t turn on the spending spigot,... executives and directors of Fortune 500 companies spent a whopping $217 million on state and federal elections, more than twice as much as the same individuals spent four years earlier. That’s about 70 percent of what was spent by more than 1,500 corporate PACs. ...
Corporate chiefs and other top executives  ... giving is more ideological and less strategic than that of their companies. ... That suggests a new take on the role of money in politics. If big-money people are drowning out the political voice of ordinary Americans rather than big business, American democracy still has a problem. But it is not the problem we thought we had.

Update: Dean Baker offers a different reason for the decline in corporate giving:

Eduardo Porter's column notes evidence that individual donors are becoming increasingly important to political campaigns while business donors appear to be less important. The column interprets this to imply a lessening of their political influence, especially over the Republican Party.
There is an alternative explanation. After-tax corporate profits are at their highest level in the post-war period. This suggests that business has collectively been enormously successful in pushing its agenda. In this context, businesses may see little reason to spend vast sums on elections...

    Posted by on Wednesday, September 4, 2013 at 03:42 AM in Economics, Politics | Permalink  Comments (37)


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