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Reviews |  Inside Republicans’ political rift with American business


Large companies are overwhelmingly in favor of requiring workers to be vaccinated against Covid-19. A recent CNBC survey of CFOs found 80% say they ‘fully support’ the Biden administration’s plan to impose a vaccine or test mandate on companies with more than 100 workers , and many companies have already announced vaccination requirements for their employees.

However, Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, has just issued an executive order banning vaccination warrants in his state. That is, he does not simply refuse to use his own powers to promote vaccination; it interferes in private decisions, trying to prevent companies from demanding that their workers or customers be vaccinated.

And on Sunday, Senator Ted Cruz celebrated a wave of flight cancellations by Dallas-based Southwest Airlines based on rumors – which the airline and its union deny – that the problems were caused by a Walkout of employees protesting the airline’s new vaccine requirements.

What is happening here?

Republicans have been closely tied to big business since the Golden Age, when a party originally based on opposition to slavery was actually captured by the rise of corporate power. This alliance lost some of its strength in the 1950s and 1960s, a time when the GOP widely accepted things like progressive taxation and strong unions, but returned in full with the rise of Ronald Reagan and his agenda. tax cuts and deregulation.

Indeed, not so long ago, one could reasonably think that the Republican Party was essentially a front for big business interests, which exploited social problems and appealed to racial hostility to win elections, to turn immediately after each election to a pro-business program. This was essentially the thesis of Thomas Frank’s 2004 book What’s the Matter With Kansas, and it seemed to be a good model of the party until the rise of Trumpism.

Now, however, Republican politicians are at odds with American business on critical issues. It’s not just the vaccines. Corporate interests also want to invest seriously in infrastructure and find themselves on the sidelines of Republican leaders who don’t want Democrats to achieve political success. Basically, the GOP is currently engaged in a massive campaign of sabotage – its leaders want to see America do wrong, because they believe it will be to their political advantage – and if it hurts their backers along the way, they don’t care. .

To be clear, companies are not good guys. They support immunization mandates and infrastructure investments because they believe both would be good for their outcomes. They are still mostly opposed to the rest of the Biden agenda, including – unforgivably – efforts to tackle climate change because they don’t want to pay more taxes.

Yet the conflict between the GOP and business is a striking new turning point in American politics. And I wonder if some business leaders are asking, in the privacy of their minds, “My God, what have we done? “

For the truth is that the Republican Party has become more and more radical – and less and less rational – for a long time. Where we are now is the culmination of a process that began in the 1990s, when Newt Gingrich became Speaker of the House, if not sooner. Yet corporate interests continued to support the GOP In fact, leading business organizations like the United States Chamber of Commerce leaned much further into partisanship even as Republicans became more radical, apparently believing that they could live with a little madness as long as they received their tax. cuts and deregulation.

Now they are learning that they are not in control and that in fact, they have virtually no voice in the party they have funded. They thought they were using the extremists; it turns out that the extremists were using them.

The question is, what are they going to do about it?

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