The Dangerous Partnership Between Big Business and Government

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President Obama's greatest strategic accomplishment during his first term was his recruitment of big business to join the existing collection of special interest groups within the Democratic Party.

The national impact of Obama's collusion with big business can't be overlooked. Big business helped deliver his biggest political achievement, ObamaCare, and it recently contributed to his victories with the fiscal cliff negotiations and the temporary extension of the debt ceiling.

The addition of huge corporate lobbying infrastructures to the existing left-wing coalition of unions, environmental activists, minority and feminist interest groups will fundamentally transform the special interest lobbying force in Washington. And as long as big business can profit from an expanding government, CEOs representing many corporations will support the progressive agenda of increased spending and government control over individual lives.

Last November, President Obama rallied leaders of big business to pressure Republicans to support his plan to avoid the fiscal cliff. After meeting with Obama's key big business allies, General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt became a visible spokesperson for his goal of raising taxes.

During a December 2012 interview on "CBS This Morning" on the fiscal cliff, Jeff Immelt said, "We need revenue, everybody knows we need revenue..." and he added, "...Speaker Boehner is the only guy who can lead us in that... He's gotta take the heat and I trust that he can do it."

Immelt was not alone. The Business Round Table - a trade group - supported tax increases to raise government revenue and the group also wanted to avoid a fight over the debt ceiling.

In the end, John Boehner caved into the corporate pressure. He engineered House votes resulting in fiscal cliff legislation that extended the debt ceiling, raised taxes and delayed the promised sequestration cuts.

Besides the lack of transparency in the negotiation process, the tragedy of the fiscal cliff failure was the political reality that Immelt's support of Obama was not motivated by the good of the country, but deeply rooted in a desire to achieve special treatment for GE.

Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner reported shortly after the late night deal-making that General Electric was the big winner in the "compromise," which included $76 billion in tax credits for business special interests. According to Carney, the White House demanded that The Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012 - a Senate bill filled with corporate tax breaks - be included in the fiscal cliff legislation.

General Electric's wind turbine business will certainly benefit from the $12 billion extension of the wind production tax credit, and the addition of a $9 billion "active financing exception" provision that allows multinational companies to avoid paying U.S. taxes by keeping profits on financial transactions overseas.

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley among others will also benefit from the financing exception terms. Hollywood, green energy companies and NASCAR will profit from other corrupt elements in the last-minute additions to the fiscal cliff deal.

Small-government activists and the politicians they helped to elect must acknowledge the dangerous partnership between big business and big government, and be willing to expose Obama's latest recruits at every turn.

Tackling crony capitalism is a great strategy to energize the freedom movement and continue to grow this community of likeminded citizen activists. The hypocrisy of the ruling elite is a powerful message that resonates with every American, regardless of political party.

Obama's collusion with big business exposes his political dishonesty. During a speech, the President complained about companies exploiting the tax code to avoid paying taxes, arguing, "Our tax code shouldn't give an advantage to companies with the best-connected lobbyists."

Yet, Obama endorsed the insertion of the corporate tax credits into the fiscal cliff deal by lobbyists which yielded significant financial benefits for companies like GE.

No better than the President, Immelt himself should conduct some serious soul searching.  Indeed, while very public in his call for increased taxes and reduced government spending, he's been quiet about the millions in taxpayer money that GE will get thanks to the company's lobbying efforts in Washington.

There is some good news amid the corruption and dysfunction in Washington. The political tide is beginning to turn against big business. The next generation of conservative leaders - elected largely with the support of the small government movement - was loudly upset by crony capitalists siding with Obama on the fiscal cliff deal.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal told Politico that the Republican Party needs to connect with more Americans by distancing itself from big business. He wrote, "We've got to make sure that we are not the party of big business, big banks, big Wall Street bailouts, big corporate loopholes, big anything."

A recent story in The New York Times reported that some Congressional Republicans are starting to resist the lobbying pressure of big business, highlighting comments that newly elected Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) made to The Wall Street Journal during last year's campaign on his view of the business community.

Cruz noted, "One of biggest lies in politics is the lie that Republicans are the party of big business. Big business does great with big government. Big business is very happy to climb in bed with big government. Republicans are and should be the party of small business and of entrepreneurs."

The challenge facing the small government movement in 2013 is clear: to shrink the size and cost of government, we must push big business out of Obama's left-wing coalition.


Tom Borelli, Ph.D., is a senior fellow with FreedomWorks.  

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