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Funny how things are changing
Bob Franken.jpg
Bob Franken is an Emmy winning, syndicated columnist. - photo by File photo

The way it usually works out, organized labor is aligned with the Democrats, and big business is closely connected to the GOP. And it is true that the Dems still march in lockstep with those who are the employees, by and large. However, it’s both Republicans and Democrats who are slugging it out with the corporations.

First of all, when I say “Republicans,” I mean the Trump party. When I say “ultra-conservative,” these days that means “Trump-inspired.” You never hear of ultra-conservative Democrats; their opponents describe them as radical liberals and moderates. I happen to think that’s unfair; those on the far left should be titled the “Immoderates,” but that’s another discussion. 

We were talking about the Trumpsters and how they are currently trash talking the decision-makers at the conglomerates. It’s regarding Republican voter-suppression efforts. GOP state legislators in 40-plus states are competing to return to the Jim Crow glories of yesteryear. And who has created the biggest uproar about that? The corporations.

The state of Georgia has passed the most egregious suppression law, making it a crime to bring food or water to those poor folks, a natural Democratic constituency, standing in too-hot lines at their too-few polling places. Then, the mega-companies got in on the act. 

Traditionally, “corporate responsibility” has been the ultimate oxymoron. In the name of profits and outrageously high compensation for their top executives, they stood for polluting too much, paying their workers too little and cutting back on the quality of their consumer products and services as much as possible. 

But suddenly, the top executives have decided to get a conscience, or they have done market research that shows they should pretend they have one. In Georgia, for instance, Coca Cola and Delta Airlines, headquartered in Atlanta (sorta Georgia), made it clear to Major League Baseball that they would look with displeasure on continued plans to play the All-Star Game in the Braves’ spiffy new stadium outside Atlanta. Ever mindful of who the big advertisers are, MLB decided to pull the game and place it in Denver.

Republicans have had a cow! They have accused the corporations of everything short of treason, or even worse ... of being “woke.”

It’s a trendy way of describing being aware of social injustices, particularly in matters of race. But it suffers from overuse. A rule of thumb is that once white fuddy-duddies use the word “woke,” it’s not trendy anymore. There is nobody more white fuddy-duddyish than Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Yet there he was, accusing the chief executives of being a “woke parallel government.” I bet that drew blood.

But let’s change the subject. Let’s talk about the infrastructure, as in Joe Biden’s infrastructure legislation. It includes not only concrete, but everything but the kitchen sink. Nobody is against infrastructure, but the Republicans have an easy time opposing it if it includes child care, and if Biden’s price tag is $3 trillion, raised by a large increase in corporate taxes. That puts him in the usual duel with Republicans.

As usual, when it comes to taxes, the corporations are BFFs with the Republicans, joined at the hip in opposing big increases in the rates big business should pay. Neil Bradley, chief policy officer of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which speaks for business, said, “This plan would make America less competitive, which would mean less U.S. economic growth and less job creation.”

What is it Sen. Russell Long said? “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me. Tax that fellow behind the tree.” He got it right; tax the other guy. Long, by the way, was head of the Senate Finance Committee, which deals with all tax-related legislation, so he should know. Yeah, I know, Long was a Democrat. But he was also a racist, an ardent segregationist. He’d be a Republican today. 

It’s funny how things change. It used to be that corporations were called reactionary. Now they’re accused of being woke.

Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN.

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