Political Animal


July 13, 2011 8:35 AM Business community to Congress: Enough

By Steve Benen

It wasn’t too long ago that 62 leading U.S. business groups, including the American Gas Association, the Telecommunications Industry Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers, all pleaded with Congress to end the standoff and raise the debt ceiling. “With economic growth slowly picking up we cannot afford to jeopardize that growth with the massive spike in borrowing costs that would result if we defaulted on our obligations,” the groups said. “It is critically important that the United States stands fully behind its legal obligations.”

That was two months ago today. Ordinarily, the allegedly “pro-business” Republican Party would have taken this seriously, but instead, GOP leaders ignored the pleas.

So, business leaders are being forced to ask a little louder.

At his press conference earlier this week, President Obama was asked about working with business leaders to “lobby Congress to raise the debt ceiling.” The president explained that he’s spoken “extensively” to the business community, but they’re often reluctant to push Congress publicly, even if they agree with Obama privately: “[T]hey’ve got a whole bunch of business pending before Congress and they don’t want to make anybody mad.”

Fortunately, some are raising their voices anyway.

A sprawling coalition of Wall Street and Main Street business leaders sent an unmistakable message to lawmakers Tuesday: Enough squabbling. Get the debt ceiling raised.

The message, sent in a letter to President Obama and every member of Congress, puts pressure on GOP lawmakers, who have staked out an uncompromising stance against raising taxes in the partisan wrangling over the country’s borrowing limit.

Republicans rely heavily on corporations for political support and have regularly cited the opinions of these “job creators” in their opposition to new tax revenue. Many of the House GOP freshmen most opposed to a compromise were swept into office with the help of financial support from groups behind the letter.

But the business community, which has largely kept quiet on the issue until now, does not uniformly share the Republican orthodoxy on taxes, according to some lobbyists who helped craft the statement.

The businesses involved in this effort didn’t present a blueprint for a possible debt-reduction plan, and were silent on revenues or cuts-to-savings ratio. The reason is simple: they don’t much care. The corporate leaders just want Congress to raise the debt ceiling; how members get to “yes” is irrelevant.

In this case, the letter was “signed by hundreds of senior company executives and groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.”

So, let’s see. Wall Street wants Republicans to stop screwing around. The business community wants Republicans to stop screwing around. Global investors want Republicans to stop screwing around. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department want Republicans to stop screwing around.

But unhinged and uninformed right-wing activists want Republicans to keep pushing their — and our — luck. As of this morning, the congressional GOP is only listening to the activists.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • c u n d gulag on July 13, 2011 8:46 AM:

    Cue the speech from "Network:"

    "You have meddled with the primal forces of nature and you will atone!"

    And I GUARANTEE YOU, after all of this passes, we'll continue to hear from the business community about how it's Obama who's killing business in this once great country with his hatred of big business, and his regulatory Socialist/Communist ways!

  • Marko on July 13, 2011 8:49 AM:

    Dear GOP House Freshmen: Can you spell P-R-I-M-A-R-Y?

  • slappy magoo on July 13, 2011 8:49 AM:

    When I see the GOP in (in)action, the phrase "Purity of Essence" comes to mind.

  • davidp on July 13, 2011 8:49 AM:

    Not to mention that the GOP blame Obama for causing economic uncertainty. It's a bit rich, isn't it.

  • Mr. Serf Man on July 13, 2011 8:51 AM:

    Teabagger Lunacy Meets Reality
    Their pandering to this uneducated fringe has come home to roost.
    The trickle down tax fairy is no more.
    America may be finally waking up to who is pulling the strings .
    Guess what Teabaggers - It ain't you.
    Big Bidness and all the money it provides call the shots.
    The first priority of any politician is to get reelected and this goal is primary to any incidentals like the will of the people.

  • DAY on July 13, 2011 8:57 AM:

    The Republican paradigm makes no sense.

    But then, neither did the Koolaid at Jonestown.

  • Anonymous on July 13, 2011 8:58 AM:

    When will the Republican Party put the country first?

  • foosion on July 13, 2011 9:00 AM:

    Does anyone have a link to an actual copy of the letter, including who signed it?

  • FRP on July 13, 2011 9:05 AM:

    This is of course is the same business community that swooned with love , fealty , and undying support along with its mouthpiece the "Chamber of Commerce" for the Ferdinand Marcos martial law atrocity in "Our Colony" the Philippines . It is scary when you think of the "Chambers" they endorse , and are committed to in maintaining their hegemony .

    no go ahead scream please

    Beee caauusse

    No one can hear you my love

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ....

  • DAY on July 13, 2011 9:14 AM:

    it is human nature to look out for Number One.
    With some, it becomes a pathology.

    "Tank fecesU"- I agree! (Feces University= congress?)

  • walt on July 13, 2011 9:22 AM:

    The right-wing tragedy is that it lights a fire to warm the house and then decides to walk away rather than ensure it stays just in the fireplace. You see this over and over how corporations look for any short-term advantage at the expense of the nation that hosts it. Cut taxes! Cut 'em again! Who cares about schools and infrastructure. Who cares about a society teetering on the edge of collapse. Yet we see this time and again throughout the world.

    Let's get over the idolatry that these clowns a) care about America or b) have any particularly good political insights. They helped foist the Tea Party on America and the house is burning down while they were busy maximizing their own profits.

  • stormskies on July 13, 2011 9:24 AM:

    DAY: "The Republican paradigm makes no sense.

    But then, neither did the Koolaid at Jonestown."


    except to James Jones = Eric Cantor

  • Josef K on July 13, 2011 9:24 AM:

    As of this morning, the congressional GOP is only listening to the activists.

    I suspect this apparent indifference is actually part of a calculus on the GOP's part. They're likely assuming (not without reason) that the corporate money will flow to them anyway, so their focus needs to be on keeping the activists happy (and thus keep from getting primaried).

    Unfortunately, I don't believe they can resolve this soon enough to head off the bond market panicking. Plus which this is such an unprecedented situation, there may not be any corporate money available afterwards.

    But hey, at least they kept their base happy.

  • bob h on July 13, 2011 9:26 AM:

    Wasn't it "a sprawling coalition of Wall Street and Main Street business leaders" who bankrolled the Republican takeover of the House in 2010?. Are these geniuses unhappy with the Frankenstein monster they helped create? Is there any end to the knee-jerk stupidity and shallowness of our business leaders?

  • j on July 13, 2011 9:32 AM:

    And as the sun sinks in the west, Murdoch cruises to the UK in his corporate jet, to defend himself for all the filth that
    pervades our media. As he looks down, out of the window, he says thank you suckers (the American taxpayer)for all the subsidies & billions in tax credits to allow me this corporate jet.We are borrowing money, paying interest on it to give subsidies to this evil man,remember when the right had a hissy fit about tax money going to NPR!

  • Rich on July 13, 2011 9:39 AM:

    I think Wall Street does care about the GOP agenda, but they also know that the teabaggers are using tactics that will backfire, big time. Norquist's muddled support for McConnell's gibberish is a sign that even the Koch Brothers (who pay his salary and bankroll the teabagger orgs) are tired of this and do not see their antics as being in the long-term interests of the organized right wing. I think we have to keep looking beyond the obvious and the proximal and consider what the endgames might be.

  • jpeckjr on July 13, 2011 10:13 AM:

    Some conservative voices like to say "Government should be run more like a business." Part of this letter's messsage is: Businesses -- at least those that want to have a future -- are not run like this.

    Business leaders have to make tough decisions all the time, and members of Congress who can't make tough decision are not by any definition leaders.

    Captcha: resolution ovatera -- Is this overture going to result in a resolution?

  • emrka on July 13, 2011 10:29 AM:

    lololololol...as if you hard lefties give the least bit of a damn what business leaders think. If you did you wouldn't be liberals and have your entire economic philosophy built around punishing those "evil" ceo's.

  • gVOR08 on July 13, 2011 10:50 AM:

    This matters when the Business Round Table or the C of C threaten to primary Tea Partiers from the left (the TPer's left, not anywhere left of actual center). Until then, not sure this matters at all.

  • bdop4 on July 13, 2011 10:59 AM:

    Oh look, a troll has wandered in from the wilderness, trying to distinguish his ass from a hole in the ground.

    Buddy, if you had any idea of how a business is run, you'de know that you can't operate without credit or generate profits without customers.

    Business leaders are like Dr. Frankenstein, finally realizing the grave mistake they've made by encouraging idiots like ermka into believing economic fairy tales.

    Reap what you sow, assholes.

  • Lou on July 13, 2011 10:59 AM:

    This is why we've already sold stocks at our house. To say people are "nervous" is an understatement. There isn't any indication that even a few Republicans will step out and do the right thing.

  • Daniel Kim on July 13, 2011 11:12 AM:

    @emrka: I am not sure the readers here are 'hard lefties'. We're actually pretty much center-left. For myself, I'd be OK with CEOs who are committed to the long-term well being of their companies, instead of goosing short-term value to get a bunch of money, then leaving. The slash-and-burn economics of our business leaders are only good for those who can retire to the Cayman Islands.

    Bob Lutz, formerly of GM, wrote a new book called "Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business"

    The review in Time sums it up:

    "To get the U.S. economy growing again, Lutz says, we need to fire the M.B.A.s and let engineers run the show."

    Even Henry Ford, according to legend and history, understood that he needed to pay his own workers enough that they could buy his cars . . . on installment. The current practice of squeezing workers until the break, then replacing them has finally resulted in a crisis of consumer demand. Doesn't it make sense that you can't sustain a business if there are no paying customers left?

  • Nomad on July 13, 2011 12:51 PM:


    Silly teabaggies! I'm a leftie and a CEO (but I'm only evil on the weekends).

  • emrka on July 13, 2011 1:13 PM:

    still clueless guys. i've actually run small businesses, if any of you actual had as well you know what a burden your beloved obamacare and countless regulations and taxes do to biz

  • Cybrguy on July 13, 2011 1:44 PM:

    "Wasn't it "a sprawling coalition of Wall Street and Main Street business leaders" who bankrolled the Republican takeover of the House in 2010?. Are these geniuses unhappy with the Frankenstein monster they helped create? Is there any end to the knee-jerk stupidity and shallowness of our business leaders?"

    Yes, it was. Yes, finally they are. No, sadly, there isn't. They only care about the money. Screw the country, and especially, screw the poor and middle class.
    The only group who cares less for the poor than the business and wall street community (poor don't make them enough money) are the Republicans in the house and senate. They only serve their masters. It is a positive feedback loop.

  • jcn on July 13, 2011 3:23 PM:

    hey guys, i've bought fireworks at emrka's roadside stand. he knows what he's talking about.

  • eyeswideopen on July 13, 2011 3:40 PM:

    Emrka, since you think tax cuts provide jobs, and Obama left the tax rate the same, where are the new jobs? Trickle down economics doesn't work. Look at the job numbers created by Bush after his tax cuts, too small to even count up. I say let's go back to the tax rates of when your hero,Reagan, was Pres. Oh, I can hear the repubs screaming foul, as I type this. Yeh, if your economic platform is based on taxes, let's admit you're right and implement those tax rates that Reagan enjoyed. LOL