A Wakeup Call to American Business

It’s hard to find any good news surrounding the government shutdown, especially since an estimate from Standard & Poor’s projected that the shutdown took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy and reduced projected fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent.

Yet, the shutdown appears to have had one positive effect: it awoke a sleeping giant — America’s business community, which has been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the right time to get back into action. That time may have come.

Influential business organizations, such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, recognize that the Republican party can ill-afford to make another strategic blunder like the shutdown. Now they are ready to get re-engaged with the conservative GOP base that historically partnered with business, which shares their emphasis on low taxes and reduced regulation. The GOP understands all too well that the private sector — not big government — must lead us out of our current economic woes and depressing employment picture.

The nation’s business leaders have aligned themselves with the conservative base of the GOP since the late 1970s, and that relationship prospered.

A recent Washington Post interview with Mark Mizruchi, a professor of sociology and business administration at the University of Michigan, shed some light on the origins of this relationship during the 1970s:

“[B]ig American companies saw themselves as under siege, and they mounted a counteroffensive. In doing this, they did something which they hadn’t done for a long time: aligned themselves with traditional conservatives. And so you start seeing big businesses funding organizations like the American Enterprise Institute, and there was the formation of the Heritage Foundation, and they started becoming very aggressive against what they saw as intrusive government regulation and labor unions in a way that they hadn’t before.”

Their plan worked as corporate taxes decreased and government regulation became more manageable, allowing businesses to have the confidence to invest.

We are where we are today, according to Mizruchi, “because big business has lost the ability to act collectively, their ability to shape the political process has declined. And just to clarify, they’re very successful when it comes to receiving favors for their own companies. But whenever it comes to a situation where it requires them to act collectively, they seem to be entirely ineffectual.”

We are seeing the results. Business organizations are donating money to conservative Republican candidates who understand and support what they and business need to do to help get this country back on the right track.

An unnamed Republican lobbyist told The Post that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has “been able to raise an incredible amount of money, because people want to invest in John as a reasonable leader and as a guy who gets how the world works in a broader sense, understands business and makes them successful.”

Many people forget that Boehner ran a small plastics company in Ohio before he went full time on Capitol Hill. So you sense how frustrated he must be not being able to do the things he knows must be done as an entrepreneur and small business owner.

The shutdown was a bad idea from every standpoint, but if gets big business involved in the political process once again, something positive can be salvaged from this governmental wreck. The timing couldn’t be better.

Only 13 percent of Americans think this country is heading in the right direction. There’s a rift between unions and President Obama over his Affordable Care Act. And most people are now convinced that the private sector, not the government, can get this economy moving again.

This last outrage in Washington has pushed us to the point where Howard Beale’s rant in the movie Network rings more relevant than ever.

“I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there’s no end to it. . . . I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, ‘I’M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!”

If we yell loud enough, our nation’s business leaders and conservative Republicans will help elect a president that embraces the values of all Americans, and puts people back to work.

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