As promised, the big business lobby is weighing in to protect establishment Republicans from the Tea Party.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently launched a TV ad campaign to support Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). Meanwhile, former Rep. Steve LaTourette’s (R-Ohio) Defending Main Street PAC is defending Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho). Both of these efforts are designed to protect incumbent politicians from Tea Party-backed primary challengers.
Steve LaTourette, who also runs a D.C. lobbying firm, wants to replace principled congressmen like Justin Amash (R-Mich.) with moderate Republicans who will blindly fall in line with House leadership to protect Washington’s special relationship with the big business community.
To the uninformed, it appears these special interest groups are motivated to bring a more pragmatic, moderate and perhaps bipartisan-minded breed of Republican to Congress. That assessment is not only naïve, but wrong. In reality, Chamber CEO Tom Donohue and Steve LaTourette are puppets of their big business backers who want to keep government money flowing to their financial supporters’ bottom line.
Too many CEOs prefer a government-managed economy where their lobbyists can shape a policy environment that is advantageous to their business. Dreading competition, they’ve abandoned true free-market capitalism for a less risky route.
Big government grants, contracts and infrastructure spending are central to establishment politicians and their big business agenda. Tea party-backed politicians keen on cutting government spending pose an inherent threat to their government-orchestrated business model and revenue streams.
General Electric (a Chamber member) and its CEO Jeff Immelt represent the model backers of establishment Republicans that fear the Tea Party movement. Immelt’s bias against the Tea Party was revealed during a TV interview on “Bloomberg Surveillance” with Tom Keene. Responding to a question about what advice he would give to the Tea Party Immelt said:
“What I would say to the Tea Party is, the country will never be great, unless it has fantastic infrastructure and the extent to which you guys think anything the government does is wrong, including infrastructure, we will never be able to compete with China and places like that.”
It’s no coincidence that Immelt’s support of infrastructure spending mirrors the Chamber’s support for an increase in the gasoline tax. The Chamber and labor unions support a recently introduced bill by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) to increase the federal gas tax by 15 cents per gallon to support the Highway Trust Fund.According to Blumenauer, Congress needs the tax to fix the country’s bridges, roads and transit systems.
The Laborers’ International Union of North America also supports the gas tax increase, and “Roll Call” reported the union’s PAC gave $150,000 to LaTourette’s Defending Main Street Super PAC Inc. When it comes to big government projects, the unions and the Chamber frequently join hands.
Both groups actively lobbied for Obama’s stimulus plan, which resulted in funds going to benefit their members.
GE, for example, received over $100 million in grants from the $787 billion stimulus bill. And for GE, big government is the gift that keeps on giving. Despite earning just over $16 billion in 2012, the company is still getting grant money from the federal government.
In 2013, the Department of Energy (DOE) continued to shower GE with taxpayer money. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) branch of the DOE awarded GE with just over $11 million in grants to conduct basic research on projects ranging from batteries to natural gas vehicles to wind turbine research this year. These funds were in addition to other grants from prior years.
That’s not all. The DOE is funding development of new vehicle technologies through another source – Advanced Vehicle Power Technology Alliance – and GE’s getting a $1.7 million piece of the $45 million pie. Caterpillar, Ford, 3M Company and General Motors are also cashing in on DOE’s generosity.
Finally, GE is getting about another $7 million from an $84 million bucket of taxpayer cash just announced in November, for two research projects related to carbon capture technologies to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Big business, such as GE and the labor unions, are addicted to big government, and these organizations will be pulling Donohue’s and LaTourette’s strings to keep the enabling establishment Republicans in office. The battle for the soul of the Republican Party is really a struggle between special interest groups desperate to keep their “type” of representative in office and those fighting for limited government.
This is a high stakes game, and it’s the Tea Party’s job to cut those special interest strings and rein in our government gone wild.
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