Donald Trump vs. Big Business: The GOP’s Civil War

Donald Trump (photo credit: Gage Skidmore)

The US Chamber of Commerce is upset. For years, they have shaped Republican policy, spending millions of dollars trying to push the Republican Party towards a business-first economic message that seems incapable of talking about anything but “job creators.” The most special of special interests, the Chamber is by far the largest lobbying organization in the United States, generally backing “pro-business” Republicans who they think will fight for their goals above all else. They find social conservatism distasteful at best, and a liability to their supposedly winning economic message at worst — a message which has nevertheless struggled to secure any wins. In 2012, Mitt Romney was crippled by his inability to make economic appeals to anyone not already represented by the Chamber.

And now, in 2016, there’s Donald Trump. The presumptive Republican nominee disagrees with the Chamber on nearly every issue. Worse still, he has spent his campaign railing against the lobbyist-owned Republican establishment the Chamber has spent millions over the years to create. Now, the Chamber spends its time live-tweeting critiques of Trump’s trade policy speeches, clearly miffed that the Republican nominee doesn’t ask for their edits beforehand.

The growing rift within the Republican Party is often blamed on the Tea Party, or on Trump, but it has existed for years, exacerbated by the Chamber’s influence. They are the reason many Republican elites fail to offer anything to the middle class except a vague suggestion that workers’ economic prospects might improve if only their bosses were richer. Continue Reading

Could This South Carolina Upset Start a GOP Civil War? (VIDEO)

Frank Cannon is president of the American Principles Project and a respected conservative political strategist with over 30 years of experience.

The policy differences that have appeared in, say, North Carolina between what Governor McCrory is doing on transgender bathrooms in the state and the Chamber of Commerce . . . that phenomenon of debating this on the policy side that existed in Georgia and in other states, where the Chamber of Commerce was pushing against the grassroots social issue movement is now moving directly into the primaries in down-ballot races.

In South Carolina, a woman who was the key sponsor in the state legislature for the 20-week [abortion ban] was defeated by a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored candidate who had just recently left his wife for another man. So this tension between the definition of the Party as being one that should dismiss social issues and the grassroots commitment to social issues is just one of the prongs on which this argument is taking place. But I think the more interesting point as it goes beyond social issues to core economic issues: Who do the policies of the Republican Party in terms of economics benefit, and are they benefiting the middle class voters you need to win national elections? And I think that’s the key question going forward.

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Georgia Chamber of Commerce Aims to Shoot Down Religious Liberty Protections (Again!)

Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Georgia “business leaders” are consulting with their Indiana counterparts to plot strategy for defeating religious liberty protections. This story illustrates both the essential dishonesty of the religious liberty debate and the cravenness of Big Business in America.

During the 2014 legislative session in Georgia, State Sen. Josh McKoon introduced a Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) substantively identical to the federal RFRA that has been on the books for 20 years. The Georgia RFRA passed the Senate but hit turbulence in the House, where the legislation was considered during the national uproar over similar, but in some important points different, legislation in Indiana. To no one’s surprise, the Georgia Republican leadership turned tail and fled the controversy, and the bill had to be tabled to await the 2016 session.

As reported by the AJC, the Georgia and Metro Atlanta Chambers of Commerce are gearing up to defeat this protection of religious liberty. Last session, the Chamber (speaking collectively) was distracted by its successful efforts to ram through a massive tax increase, but this session the Chamber will probably re-focus on defeating RFRA. Thus the consultations with the Indiana Chamber to see how they did it.

Which brings us to the dishonesty of the debate. The Left and the media (but we repeat ourselves) have established a narrative that is, as Sen. McKoon puts it, “uninterrupted by the facts.” This narrative insists that the purpose of RFRA is to mistreat gay people, ignoring that the federal RFRA, and the dozens of other state RFRAs, have never been so used in two decades. Continue Reading