News: Business Leaders Beginning to Leave GOP; Economy Does Better with Democrats
The Wall Street Journal , that major indicator of the P.O.V. of the business elites, has noted that many business leaders are deserting the Republican Party. Every G.O.P. presidential candidate is committed to the globalized “free trade” mantra (and, yet, they warned against the menace of Hillary Clinton who is more committed to Free Trade than any other Democratic presidential candidate–indeed, her husband pushed through NAFTA and the WTO!!), but increasingly Republican voters are turning against it. (Unfortunately, whether Republican or Democrat, most U.S. voters who reject globalized Free Trade just want to replace it with old style protectionism, instead of a global Fair Trade strategy that wins for labor, the environment, small businesses, and ordinary people EVERYWHERE. But, the dissatisfaction with the Free Trade mantra is an opportunity to educate folks about Fair Trade alternatives.)
Indeed, one of the reasons we have a better chance at getting universal health care in the U.S. now than we have since FDR tried during the New Deal, is because big businesses are starting to support it. General Moters is now spending most of its lobbying efforts backing universal health care–because health insurance is its number one labor cost (it adds about $500 to every automobile) and one that Toyota, Hundai, Volkswagen, etc. don’t have.
The economy does better under Democrats (see data here) in inflation, GDP growth, personal income growth, federal deficit spending (the only two presidents in recent decades to cut the red ink in D.C. were Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton) and federal debt, and even stock market returns. The huge economic growth of the second half of the 1990s was not caused by Ronald Reagans tax cuts (there were 2 recessions under Reagan and 1 under the first Bush) which, combined with huge military spending, led to massive federal red ink, just as today. That, in turn, weakened the dollar’s buying power, and led to higher interest rates. Numerous GOP pundits predicted that Clinton’s tax increases on the super wealthy would create a recession; just the opposite happened.
Although the dot.com bubble would have burst in 2001 no matter who was in charge, Bush II managed to eliminate the federal surplus in his first year–BEFORE 9/11. And nearly every economist agrees that his massive tax cuts during war, and spending like a compulsive gambler (except on children’s healthcare!) is simply not sustainable. The Democrats have an opportunity to paint themselves as the party best suited for sustainable economic growth. They could win over business leaders not by betraying labor or the environment (Wal-Mart should still be slammed), but by praising businesses that get things right and lead on labor, safety, and the environment (CostCo should be praised for getting much more right than Wal-Mart).
So, instead of Democrats needing to choose between the DLC’s “corporate cronyism with a human face” (Clintonism) and a populism with an anti-business sound (of which I am sometimes guilty as charged), they could combine historic progressive concerns with a pitch to responsible business leaders. According to Paul Waldman, Princeton economist Paul Krugman (my choice for Sec. of Treasury, not that anyone asked me), and even hyper-liberal columnist Michael Kinsley, this is a prime opportunity for Democrats to do just that. Wouldn’t that be ironic?
Update: I hate long comments and many people don’t read that section, anyway, so I’ll respond to D.R. Randle here. 1) I did not call him rightwing, but claimed he was regurgitating rightwing propaganda without backing it up. That’s not ad hominem.
2) I am not an economist. My training is in theological ethics and philosophy. But the nature of Christian ethics is to make one a generalist: One cannot write about political ethics without studying political theory. One cannot write effectively about matters relating to war and peacemaking without studying something of military history, geo-politics, international affairs, conflict transformation and much else–sometimes even including studying weopanry and its effects–a subject I find very distasteful. If one is to weigh in on issues in bio-medical ethics, one must know something of the science in these matters. Likewise, to write on economic ethics, one works to get a generalist’s knowledge of economics–enough to know what economists are talking about and where the disputes are. One does not simply read off the raw data of any of these disciplines, but brings a theological perspective to these fields–because there is no value-free, neutral inquiry. In economic matters, whenever I am out of my depth, I economists and economically-trained ethicists who know more than I do–including a couple in my church that run a socially-responsible investment firm (he has an M.Div. and an M.A. in economics; she has a Ph.D. in economics and experience in banking). But I am responsible for all mistakes and final judgments, of course.
3) Randle claims, as do many supply-siders, that the data showing that Democratic policies have been better for the economy than Republican ones are skewed because they go back to 1960. They should begin, it is claimed, with 1982, after Ronald Reagan had been in office a year and brought in the supply side magic. But as Michael Kinsley shows in the article I cited above: If one does that, the figures are different, but the results (economy better under Democrats) stay the same in all categories except one: on per capita income Democrats do even better compared to Republicans than if we take the longer view.
4) Randle addressed NOT AT ALL the data with which I began–namely that business leaders are leaving the GOP. Even if I don’t know what I am talking about economically, as Randle claims, would he want to make the same claim of so many business leaders surveyed by the Wall Street Journal?
5)It’s not just G.M. which is pushing for universal healthcare. So are many big businesses, now, including one I know very well: United Parcel Service. No one can claim UPS has a bad business track record. It reported over 4 billion in profits last year. It can afford to carry its labor costs of health benefits–but it would naturally prefer not to do so. As long as every other industrialized nation has single payer healthcare, U.S. corporations will have an expense that others don’t–and thus an uneven playing field. They can either level that field by working for universal healthcare HERE or they can keep shipping jobs to third world countries to lower labor costs. Which way do you think would best benefit the U.S. economy? Some areas of economics (e.g., monetary policy) are very hard for non-experts like me to understand. But on questions like the one above–it’s not rocket science. Average citizens CAN get it–and they can vote with that in mind.
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