- The Washington Times - Monday, November 6, 2000

Lord knows why Republicans ever raise a finger for big business. Corporate America has to be composed of the greatest bunch of ingrates in political history. In recent years the GOP has given the business groups virtually everything they've asked for: GATT, free trade with China, a capital gains cut, deficit reduction, protection from shareholder suits, and more high tech immigrants.
Now the business groups are repaying the GOP by giving about half their money to Democrats running for Congress.
The Washington Post reports that of the $70 million that business has raised for campaigns this year, $33.7 million has gone to Republican committees and $36.3 is going to the Democrats. (See Table.) Are these brain-dead PAC directors listening to what Al Gore and Dick Gephardt are saying on the campaign trail? Messrs. Gore, Gephardt, and Daschle regularly bash Big Oil, chemical companies (polluters), the pharmaceutical industry, tobacco companies, and high-tech firms like Microsoft and Intel. Now industry rewards them with a faucet of dollars. This is a case of feeding the mouth that bites you.
A case in point: one prominent business PAC, called BIPAC, is giving money to Kansas Democrat Dennis Moore. Mr. Moore voted against death tax elimination. Meanwhile, the Republican challenger, Phil Kline, is a solid free-market, anti-tax candidate with a good chance to pick up this seat for the GOP. A tightly contested House seat in California has the Business Roundtable and BIPAC funneling funds to the Democrat Cal Dooley, not the pro-tax cut Republican Rich Rodriguez.
By supporting Mr. Moore and Mr. Dooley in these races, BIPAC is helping put the Speaker's gavel in Dick Gephardt's hands. Mr. Gephardt has one of the lowest pro-business ratings on record.
The business groups defend themselves by saying: "We need to hedge our bets." That's funny, because the unions and the trial lawyers and the Hollywood gazillionaires don't "hedge their bets." Ninety-five percent of their money goes into the coffers of the Democrats.
Some Republicans are furious at the big business betrayal. Pat Toomey, a second-term Republican in the House who represents Allentown, Pa., one of the most unionized areas in the nation, has been hit hard by AFL-CIO attack ads. Mr. Toomey risked his neck for business by voting for the free trade agreement with China and against the minimum wage bill. He wonders why business groups are locking arms with union bosses to help elect a Democratic Congress.
Part of the problem is that big business doesn't always support smaller government and free markets. When the Republicans in the House wanted to terminate federal funding for the International Monetary Fund back in 1998, BIPAC and the Business Roundtable lobbied against the funding reduction. This despite the overwhelming evidence that the IMF is an obstacle to pro-growth policies in poor nations. But the IMF provides a safety net for Fortune 500 companies doing business overseas, so never mind the corruption, big business says keep the funds flowing.
Similarly, when some Republicans wanted to cut corporate welfare grants through the Commerce Department, the business groups retaliated by calling the GOP anti-business. The truth is that in these and too many other instances, it's the business lobby that's anti-free enterprise.
The brilliant Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot calls the business PAC community "rope sellers." They provide the rope to the Democrats who will soon turn around and hang their shareholders. There are a few notable exceptions, such as the NFIB and the Small Business Survival Committee, both of which take consistently principled stands on policy issues. Their members don't want anything from Congress. They simply want to be left alone. But when it comes to corporate America, big business and big government seem to be as cozy as ever. Ralph Nader is absolutely right on this point.
All this is to say corporate America has a suicidal impulse. It aids and abets its own worst enemies. Republicans should stop carrying water for big business. If they do, the business PAC money will start to pour money behind them like never before.

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