Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: Shutdown Shows Republicans Have Dumped Their Old BFF, Corporate America

Republicans don't seem to care about hurting their old constituents

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Was once upon a time that when Big Business in this country came a-callin’ The Republican Party was quick to answer.

    Whether it was issues around lower corporate taxes, less environmental regulation, increased monopolization, smaller social safety net, free trade or a host of other issues necessary for the unfettered pursuit of corporate profits, business executives usually felt the Republicans were their friend in Washington.

    After all, this was the party that nominated Mitt Romney, a man who specialized in corporate takeovers and once famously said “corporations are people, my friend.”

    With that kind of a track record, you would think that the voice of corporate America would matter in the party’s decision to plunge the country headlong into a government shutdown over the issue of Obamacare.

    As President Obama said, Congress, which is controlled in large part by Republicans, “needs to pay our bills on time and never, ever threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America.”

    Yet the current shutdown, orchestrated by Republicans at the behest of their newest friends, the Tea Partiers, explicitly does exactly that—threaten the full faith and credit of the United States, and significantly increases the chance this country could default on a whole host of obligations.

    The last time there was a shutdown in 1995 and 1996, for example, more than 20% of federal contractors in Washington were "affected adversely" by the shutdowns. At the time, the government spent $200 billion on contractors, a figure that has ballooned since then. Many of these contractors, then and now, are big defense contractors like Raytheon, Boeing and Lockheed Martin, once solid constituents for Republicans.

    The shutdown is expected to cost the country at least $300 million a day in lost economic output at the start, according to some estimates. At the same time, consumer confidence was already falling before the shutdown happened, and economist after economist have predicted the shutdown would damage the country’s already fragile economy. And, if the shutdown ends up affecting the Oct. 17 deadline or raising the debt ceiling, Wall Street itself could start to panic.

    All of which could significantly hurt the bottom lines of not only corporate America, but the rest of us who live on Main Street, too. For every corporation in America hurt by the shutdown, thousands of ordinary citizens are likely to suffer, too.

    Yet, judging from their actions, Republicans don't seem like they care all that much. Instead, it’s the Tea Partiers and the ideological extremists in the party that hold sway, committed to burning the country down for the sake of a law they don't like.

    Which, speaking personally, makes me offer a suggestion to the Republican Party I never thought I’d make:

    Republicans, that ringing telephone is Big Business on the line. Won't you answer it, please?