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Big business is no friend to conservatives—that’s been clear for years. And it’s increasingly no friend to America.
In the postwar era just a few decades ago, many corporate leaders could honestly say that they loved this country. Now that seems a stretch.
Today’s multinationals have embraced a toxic blend of offshoring and woke politics, selling out American workers even as they attack American values. But conservatives don’t have to take this behavior any longer.
You could see the mask slip back in 2015, when big companies started bullying states into backing down from efforts to protect Americans’ religious liberties.
Seven years later—under pressure from activist employees and investors—big business’s priorities now apparently extend to voter ID laws, abortion, and sex education classes for younger and younger children, to name just a few examples.
That wasn’t always the case. In days gone by, the companies themselves mostly stayed out of social debates. After all, as Michael Jordan famously quipped, “Republicans buy sneakers too.”
But today, the highest levels of American industry have become virtually unrecognizable.
FILE – LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 03: (L-R) Chairman, Disney Studios Content Alan Bergman and CEO of Disney Bob Chapek attend the world premiere of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Encanto at El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California on November 03, 2021. ((Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney))
CEOs now regularly release jargon-heavy statements denouncing conservative social policies across the board. One Disney higher-up even bragged recently about “adding queerness” to children’s programming wherever she could.
At the same time, these firms are more than happy to pander to Chinese censors to avoid losing access to a lucrative market.
Whenever there’s a whiff of political pushback to all this, a legion of D.C. lobbyists immediately descends to regurgitate the same tired talking points. Inevitably, the lobby groups complain that any consequences for woke corporations, no matter how marginal, will devastate the American economy.
We’re told that the relationship between business and the right is a one-way street: companies can say and do whatever they want, no matter how destructive to conservative principles, and Republicans—simply because they’re Republicans and ostensibly “business-friendly”—need to be OK with it.
It’s time for that free ride to end. Big companies must no longer take support from conservatives for granted. What Congress has given, Congress can also take away. And there are plenty of options for the chopping block.
Let’s start with Disney. Over the years Disney’s copyright protections for characters like Mickey Mouse have been extended further and further into the future, allowing the company to maintain a stranglehold on its ever-increasing intellectual property stockpile. Disney specifically asked Congress for more protections. As Disney doubles down on its hostility to American values, it’s time to start paring those protections back.
FILE -Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred speaks during a news conference, Thursday March 10, 2022, in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)
Similarly, Major League Baseball—which was all too happy to try to bully the State of Georgia over its election integrity laws—should lose its longstanding antitrust exemption, which no other industry enjoys in the same way. And while we’re revising our antitrust laws, we should make clear that the very largest firms should face a flat ban on further acquisitions. No more conglomerate mergers giving a handful of multinational firms unprecedented power over Americans’ jobs and lives.
And of course, Section 230—stretched far beyond its original design—has shielded Big tech companies from legal liability for far too long. It should be drastically reformed or repealed entirely. Big Tech doesn’t need a handout—it can afford to operate on a level playing field with everyone else.
To be clear: Congress has every right to use its discretion. Tax breaks and corporate structures are themselves creations of the law. The very economic order that allows CEOs to reap colossal profits is the product of policy choices made in Washington.
By eliminating special preferences and carveouts, we can support competition in the economy, and encourage innovation and the rise of new firms that can challenge the big incumbents, all while turbocharging prosperity here at home.
In America, the people—not the corporations—are in charge. Republicans need to start acting like it.