That has become more accurate as we struggle to emerge from a health and economic catastrophe. As business leaders and the rest of the country learned in the Trump years, economic prosperity does not rely on deregulation or tax cuts for the rich, but on fundamentals such as a functioning health-care system that can confront a pandemic, a robust international trading system, the rule of law and corruption-free government. While right-wing donors and think tank ideologues may believe that supply-side tax cuts and a roll back of environmental regulations are the keys to prosperity, business leaders rarely prioritize these issues. (And in fact, having invested in green energy, businesses are now pushing back on efforts to revert to excessive carbon output.)
Given all that, it should not be surprising that Business Roundtable chief executives (who lead companies with nearly $9 trillion in annual revenue and employ close to 19 million workers) are sounding the alarm against the obstructionism, penny pinching and covid-19 denialism that color Republicans’ outlook these days. In a statement released Monday, the Business Roundtable argued that the top priority for the next administration and Congress should be “to help American families amid the global coronavirus pandemic, as their plans and economic outlook improve from historic lows set earlier this year.”
In addition to a strong pandemic response, a strong majority of the CEOs “rated a federal COVID-19 economic relief package (83 percent) and investments in infrastructure (77 percent) — such as roads, bridges and broadband — as ‘most’ or ‘very’ important.” Former chief of staff to George W. Bush and now head of the Business Roundtable Joshua Bolten seemed to echo President-elect Joe Biden’s economic team: “We urge lawmakers to work in a bipartisan fashion to enact further economic support, especially for small businesses, before the end of the year. Further delay in delivering relief will hurt millions of Americans and lead to more damage to our economy.”
This does not mean that the Biden team is stocked with corporate shills; it means that anyone truly interested in economic recovery understands that taming the pandemic is the overriding and first priority. Fiscal stimulus, especially in job-producing infrastructure, comes next. You do not hear business leaders talking about more tax cuts or reining in the debt (which many Republicans now hypocritically suggest is needed). Republicans’ obstructionism and anti-public-sector outlook may play to its donor class or to the MAGA cult, but no one should mistake their agenda as “pro-capitalism” or their political darlings as a bulwark against “socialism.”
Biden’s administration and Democrats in Congress will need all the help they can get in breaking the back of Republican obstructionism. In that regard, governors, mayors, labor leaders and business may be on the same team. Perhaps collectively they can persuade enough Republicans not to stand in the way of our recovery.