Corporate America is still dangerously delusional about what the GOP has become

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks to reporters with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) (L) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) following the weekly Senate Republican caucus luncheon in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 16, 2021 in Washington, DC.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) talks to reporters with Sen. John Thune (R-SD) (L) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) following the weekly Senate Republican caucus luncheon in the Russell Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 16, 2021 in Washington, DC.

  • The GOP corporate America used to know and love is gone.
  • What we have now is an angrier GOP willing to punish companies that disagree with it.
  • It’s un-American, and it has nothing to do with the free market, but apparently the base likes it.
  • That means sorry, the old GOP went out to get a pack of smokes and it ain’t coming back.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Corporations need to hear this, and probably a few half-hearted Republicans do too – former House Speaker John Boehner’s GOP isn’t coming back.

Boehner was perhaps the last leader of a now-dead Republican party we used to know. The one that was born during the Reagan years. The GOP that kept its hands out of the affairs of private enterprise, that championed free speech, that knew how to cut a deal, that you might want to have a glass of Merlot and a cigar with – that GOP’s gone.

Instead we have a GOP that has no problem interfering with private business decisions. Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida and Greg Abbott of Texas, for example, just signed legislation prohibiting private companies from requiring vaccination passports from customers.

Instead we have a GOP that punishes companies that do not share its political beliefs. In Georgia, the state House voted to strip Atlanta-based Delta Airlines of a $35 million fuel tax credit because it spoke out against a law that would make it harder for people to get to the polls. After decades of advocating for corporations to have more political power, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned companies to “stay out of politics,” only to somewhat walk it back after remembering who his donors are.

Some corporations – like Jet Blue, which just restarted donations to Republicans who voted against certification of election on January 6 – are trying to get back to business as usual. Instead they should be getting ready to play defense. With this GOP corporations are likely to become collateral damage as every issue devolves into total culture war.

Yes, the Democrats want to raise corporate taxes, but the Republicans have no problem punishing companies when they stand up for basic functions of our democracy – like easy access to voting – that the party now happens to oppose. That’s the choice for corporations now.

A GOP in need of anger management

All of this stands in contrast to recently published experts of Boehner’s soon-to-be-released memoir – an account of a man watching his party go insane. According to him, in 2010 as the party was radicalizing “a total moron and get elected just by having an R next” to their name.” He described birtherism – the wind beneath the wings of Donald Trump’s political aspirations – as “truly nutty.” All of it, he said, made it nearly impossible to cut deals with the Obama administration.

This isn’t to say that Boehner isn’t partly responsible for what the GOP has become, but it’s telling that he has written a memoir that marks a line in the sand between the GOP he presided over and the one that coalesced under Trump. He knows that the GOP post-Boehner era is an assemblage of everything that pushed him out of Washington on steroids.

Part of what Trump added to the “truly nutty” was pure rage. In an excerpt published by Punchbowl News, Boehner said after he shared a round of golf with Trump, it was the future president’s anger that stood out to him the most. A staffer accidentally told Trump and Boehner the wrong names of two men playing golf with them. Boehner shrugged it off, but Trump eviscerated the staffer publicly in a way that took Boehner aback.

“We had no idea then what that anger would do to our country,” Boehner wrote.

Even with Trump gone, the politics of anger he brought to the fore has remained with the GOP. We are just getting a sense of how it is settling in our politics now, and corporations will not be left unscathed. Politically motivated consumer boycotts have been an American pastime for both parties for generations, but today’s GOP has shown a willingness to dole out legislative punishment to corporations for what should be relatively uncontroversial political statements in ways we have not seen before in this nation, embracing the totality of “you’re either with us, or you’re against us.”

This is not just a phase

Right now the GOP and corporate America have a similar problem with Biden’s proposed infrastructure and tax legislation – the ideas are popular. A Reuters poll found that 79% of Americans support a government overhaul of American roadways, railroads, bridges, and ports. 71% support a plan to get high speed internet to everyone. Over 65% support replacing lead pipes and creating tax credits for green energy.

Americans are also supportive of raising corporate taxes. A Pew Research poll found that 62% of Americans are bothered “a lot” by how little tax corporations pay. That is to say, headlines about Biden raising corporate taxes in order to improve America’s airports are unlikely to upset many Americans.

Now, corporations will try to deal with this problem the the traditional way – by sending their lobbyists to Capitol Hill.

But the GOP has found another way to deal with the disconnect between its policies and their popularity – by staying laser focused on anger and never-ending culture war. Fox News has launched two new shows centered around cancel culture because that’s what excites its viewers. And the loudest GOP politicians with the most obvious aspirations for the presidency have decided that punishing corporations for being on the “wrong side” of any hot button issue is a political win with their base.

That is why corporations should get used to the reality that this is not just a phase. The Republican party requires a major adjustment to go back to what it was. Instead it is becoming more populist and more radical.

If you want to know in what direction the GOP is headed, look no futher than a man who will go anywhere the wind is blowing – Florida Sen. Marco Rubio. Once a protege of the Bush family, now his social media is chockablock with culture war video rants that sound like an audition for a primetime slot on Fox News. Recently he blasted Major League Baseball for the league’s decision – triggered by the aforementioned voting law – to move their All-Star Game out of Atlanta. Rubio decided to hit back at MLB by ranting about its business dealings in China and Cuba, obviously lacking the self awareness to realize that at this very moment, the Chinese Communist Party is harassing companies for their political and human rights stances as well.

The GOP may not raise corporate taxes, but it now behooves it to attack corporate interests in other ways. Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley – a young man who has had quite a lot of success fundraising after helping to incite the January 6 Capitol riot – tweeted about punishing “woke” companies using antitrust legislation to break them up. I needn’t tell you that punishing companies for taking a political stance is not what anti-trust legislation is for.

This is the direction the Republican party is moving in. Remember that it did not present a platform during the 2020 presidential election. It did not reiterate a belief in the free market or free speech or small government or democracy. All it had was Donald Trump, and the anger that blew John Boehner and his GOP away. It’s time to come to terms with that.

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Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp claims the MLB’s voter restriction laws boycott will be a major blow to minority-owned businesses

Brian Kemp
Gov. Brian Kemp (R-Georgia) speaks during an April 3 news conference in Atlanta about Major League Baseball’s decision to move the 2021 All-Star Game over the league’s objection to the state’s new voting law.

  • Georgia Gov. Kemp criticized the MLB for withdrawing its All-Stars game from Atlanta.
  • The MLB decided in response to new voter restriction laws in Georgia.
  • Kemp said the boycott would unfairly impact minority-owned businesses.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp said that a decision by Major League Baseball to move an All-Stars Game from Atlanta in protest at voter restriction laws will disproportionately impact minority-owned businesses.

Kemp made the remarks following the MLB’s decision last Tuesday to pull the game from Atlanta and instead have it played in Denver, Colorado.

The voting rules signed into law by Kemp in March have been likened by critics to the Jim Crow laws that enforced segregation in the South, who say that disproportionately impacts Black voters.

Kemp has defended the laws, claiming they ensure election security, and has pointed to Democrat-controlled states where they are more restrictive. And in comments Saturday he criticized the MLB for the stance it has taken.

“It’s minority-owned businesses that have been hit harder than most because of an invisible virus by no fault of their own,” Kemp said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “And these are the same minority businesses that are now being impacted by another decision that is by no fault of their own,” he added.

The claim that the MLB’s boycott, and opposition to the voting laws by corporations including Coc-Cola and Delta, will end up damaging Black communities economically has emerged as a key Republican response to criticism of the laws.

Last week former Fox News personality Eric Bolling stormed out of a BBC interview when challenged about the argument by political commentator Aisha Mills.

But Democratic activist and gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is credited with devising the strategy that allowed the Democrats to flip the state in 2020, has also reportedly opposed the decision by the MLB to pull the game out of the state.

According toAtlanta Journal Constitution reporter Greg Bluestein Abrams, a strong opponent of the voter restriction laws, spoke to a senior MLB official last week and urged them not to cancel the game.

Victor Matheson, an economics professor at the College of the Holy Cross, in comments to The Guardian last week questioned said claims by some Atlanta officials that the cancellation could result in the loss of $100 million in revenue were overblown.

“There is some loss, so it’s not zero, but it’s a whole lot closer to zero than the $100m number Atlanta was throwing around,” he remarked.

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MLB’s decision to relocate its All-Star Game will cost Georgia $100 million, a tourism official says

Georgia voting
Voters in Georgia. The new voting law has proved divisive.

  • MLB’s move to relocate its All-Star Game will cost state $100 million, according to an official.
  • The loss will further delay recovery from the pandemic, Holly Quinlan told CNN.
  • The league’s decision was likely the “1st of many dominoes to fall,” Atlanta’s mayor said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Major League Baseball’s (MLB) decision to relocate its 2021 All-Star Game could cost Georgia’s economy more than $100 million, a county tourism official has said.

Local hotels were already hit hard by the pandemic, Holly Quinlan, chief executive of Cobb Travel & Tourism, told told CNN.

“The 8,000-plus MLB contracted hotel room nights that will not actualize as a result of the MLB All-Star Game relocation will have a negative impact on Cobb’s hospitality industry and other local businesses, further delaying recovery,” she said.

The league’s decision was likely the “1st of many dominoes to fall,” Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said on Friday.

The divisive election law has led to calls for many calls for boycotts. President Joe Biden called the law a “blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience.”

Former President Donald Trump, who backs the law, called for fans to boycott MLB. Trump on Saturday added to a list of companies that he’d like his supporters to boycott.

Former ESPN sportscaster Keith Olbermann, meanwhile, called for fans to boycott the Masters golf tournament that begins Thursday at Georgia’s Augusta National Golf Club.

The hospitality industry in Atlanta brings in about $16 billion annually, according to the Atlanta Convention & Visitors Bureau.

That organization issued a statement opposing “any legislation or action that restricts the rights or impacts access for Black, Brown and underrepresented communities to participate in the democratic process.”

It said: “We believe in a fair, accessible and secure election process for all Georgians.”

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Atlanta Mayor says the MLB moving All-Star Game from Georgia ‘is likely the first of many dominoes to fall’ in pushback against new voting law

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.

  • Mayor Bottoms said that the MLB’s decision to pull the All-Star Game from Atlanta would hit the area hard.
  • “Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected,” she wrote.
  • GOP Gov. Brian Kemp has lashed out at critics of the controversial new voting bill.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms on Friday said that Major League Baseball’s decision to move the All-Star Game out of Georgia over its controversial new voting law is “likely” the start of more actions taken against the state.

While speaking out against the law on Twitter, Bottoms emphasized the economic harm that such a backlash will cause throughout Georgia.

“Just as elections have consequences, so do the actions of those who are elected,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, the removal of the MLB All Star game from GA is likely the 1st of many dominoes to fall, until the unnecessary barriers put in place to restrict access to the ballot box are removed.”

She added: “Boycotts in GA will hit the metro Atlanta hardest and have a ripple effect across the state. Small businesses, corporations that support our communities, and everyday working people will suffer. It is not too late to right this sinking ship.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed on Friday that the decision to move the All-Star Game and MLB Draft was “the best way to demonstrate our values as a sport.”

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” he said in a statement. “Fair access to voting continues to have our game’s unwavering support.”

Since the law’s passage on March 25, major corporations, including Delta Airlines and Coca-Cola under pressure from politicians and activists, have more forcefully come out against its restrictive measures.

The conservative-backed law tightens election rules in the state by limiting drop boxes, strengthening voter identification requirements, blocking the usage of mobile voting vans, and even banning water and food from being distributed to voters waiting in line, among other measures.

GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, who signed the bill into law, flatly rejects claims that it reinforces voter suppression and said that the law makes it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.”

Read more: Here are 9 hurdles Biden’s infrastructure plan would have to overcome in Congress before it can become law

On Friday, the governor lashed out at MLB’s decision on Fox News, accusing the organization of adhering to “cancel culture.”

Kemp continued to express his displeasure with the situation on Twitter, lashing out at prominent Democrats.

“This attack on our state is the direct result of repeated lies from [President] Joe Biden and [former Georgia state House Minority Leader] Stacey Abrams about a bill that expands access to the ballot box and ensures the integrity of our elections,” he wrote. “I will not back down. Georgians will not be bullied. We will continue to stand up for secure, accessible, fair elections.”

Abrams, who was narrowly defeated by Kemp in the state’s 2018 gubernatorial race and could potentially run against the incumbent governor in 2022, said on Friday that she was “disappointed” by the move but was “proud” of the MLB’s support of voting rights.

“Like many Georgians, I am disappointed that the MLB is relocating the All-Star game; however, I commend the players, owners and League commissioner for speaking out,” she said in a statement. “As I have stated, I respect boycotts, although I don’t want to see Georgia families hurt by lost events and jobs. Georgians targeted by voter suppression will be hurt as opportunities go to other states. We should not abandon the victims of GOP malice and lies – we must stand together.”

Former President Barack Obama on Saturday praised the decision, making a nod to the late baseball icon Hank Aaron, who faced racial threats throughout his professional baseball career.

“Congratulations to MLB for taking a stand on behalf of voting rights for all citizens,” he wrote. “There’s no better way for America’s pastime to honor the great Hank Aaron, who always led by example.”

As of Saturday, MLB has not revealed the new host city for the 2021 All-Star Game.

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Trump is calling for a MLB boycott after the league said it would move its All-Star game out of Georgia. Conservative lawmakers discussed removing the league’s antitrust exemption.

donald trump melania trump
Former President Donald Trump and former first lady Melania Trump.

  • Former President Donald Trump on Friday called for a boycott of Major League Baseball.
  • MLB officials said the league would no longer host its All-Star Game in Atlanta.
  • The move came in the wake of a restrictive voting law enacted in Georgia last week.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Former President Donald Trump on Friday called for a boycott of Major League Baseball, following the league’s decision to move its All-Star game out of Georgia.

The league said on Friday that it would no longer host its 2021 All-Star Game in Atlanta after Georgia passed a restrictive voting law.

In a statement, Trump said: “Baseball is already losing tremendous numbers of fans, and now they leave Atlanta with their All-Star Game because they are afraid of the Radical Left Democrats who do not want voter I.D., which is desperately needed, to have anything to do with our elections.”

He added: “Boycott baseball and all of the woke companies that are interfering with Free and Fair Elections. Are you listening Coke, Delta, and all!”

Coca-Cola and Delta, which both have operations in Georgia, had spoken out against the state’s law.

Coca-Cola CEO James Quincey said the company was “disappointed.” Delta CEO Ed Bastian said the Georgia law was “unacceptable and does not match Delta’s Values.”

In asking fans to boycott baseball, Trump joined other conservative lawmakers and commentators calling for punitive measures against the league.

Sun Trust Park Major League Baseball Atlanta Georgia
Sun Trust Park in Atlanta, Georgia.

Rep. Jeff Duncan on Friday said he’d instructed his staff to draft legislation to remove a federal antitrust exemption for the league. He said MLB officials had sought to “undermine election integrity laws.”

“Why does @MLB still have antitrust immunity?” Senator Mike Lee said on Twitter. “It’s time for the federal government to stop granting special privileges to specific, favored corporations – especially those that punish their political opponents.”

Senator Ted Cruz shared Lee’s statement, adding: “EXACTLY right.”

President Joe Biden earlier in the week had voiced support for moving the game, which was scheduled for July 13. Biden called the new voting law “Jim Crow on steroids.”

“Major League Baseball fundamentally supports voting rights for all Americans and opposes restrictions to the ballot box,” said Rob Manfred, MLB commissioner, in a statement.

The Atlanta Braves in a statement said it was “deeply disappointed” by the league’s decision to relocate.

“Unfortunately, businesses, employees, and fans in Georgia are the victims of this decision,” the team’s statement said.

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Biden backs moving MLB All-Star game out of Georgia over new voting law, which he called ‘Jim Crow on steroids’

Biden
Then-Vice President Joe Biden looks on during Game Three of the 2009 MLB World Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 31, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (

  • President Joe Biden endorses moving the MLB All-Star game out of Georgia.
  • Biden cited the state’s new voting law, which he told ESPN is “Jim Crow on steroids.”
  • The law includes a provision banning volunteers from delivering food or drinks to voters in line.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

President Joe Biden on Wednesday said he would “strongly support” moving the MLB All-Star game out of Georgia, citing the state’s controversial new voting law that includes a provision banning volunteers from delivering food or drinks to voters in line.

“I think today’s professional athletes are acting incredibly responsibly,” Biden said to ESPN’s Sage Steele during an interview. “I would strongly support them doing that. People look to them. They’re leaders.”

The All-Star Game is set to occur on July 13 at the Atlanta Braves’ Truist Park.

Biden was critical of the divisive Georgia voting law, which was signed by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in late March, during the interview with ESPN.

“Look at what’s happened across the board. The very people who are victimized the most are the people who are the leaders in these various sports, and it’s just not right,” Biden said. “This is Jim Crow on steroids, what they’re doing in Georgia and 40 other states.”

The Election Integrity Act of 2021, the first major election-related legislation passed in Georgia since the 2020 election, has faced a wave of criticism from Democrats, civil rights groups, and activists. Major companies based in Georgia, like Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, have also spoken out against the law.

MLB players would like to discuss moving the event out of Georgia in the wake of the recent laws, but no conversations with the league have occurred yet, according to MLB Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark.

“Players are very much aware,” Clark told The Boston Globe via ESPN. “As it relates to the All-Star Game, we have not had a conversation with the league on that issue. If there is an opportunity to, we would look forward to having that conversation.”

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who is set to manage the National League All-Star team, told reporters he might not participate in the event if it is played in Georgia.

“I will certainly consider it,” Roberts said. “I don’t know enough about it right now. But when you’re restricting – trying to restrict – American votes, American citizens, that’s alarming to me to hear it. As we get to that point and we know more, I will make a better decision. But I do think that if it gets to that point, it will certainly be a decision I have to make personally.”

The new law expands early voting, but also requires voters to present identification to vote absentee, places limitations on the use of ballot drop boxes, and condenses the period of time between general elections and runoffs, among other provisions that critics say are restrictive.

Kemp has pushed back against the president’s criticism of the law, stating there is “nothing ‘Jim Crow'” about it.

“It is obvious that neither President Biden nor his handlers have actually read SB 202,” Kemp said. “As Governor, I won’t back down from keep Georgia elections secure, accessible, and fair.”

Grace Panetta contributed reporting.

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