Republican leaders around the country are moving to punish corporations that publicly criticized their push to enact voting restrictions in response to false claims about the election in Georgia, Texas, and dozens of other states, Politico reports.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a longtime champion of corporate money in politics, coopted the Democratic criticism of Trump’s “big lie” about the election by accusing he left of pushing a “big lie” themselves.
McConnell lashed out at President Joe Biden, who compared the new Georgia law to Jim Crow-era restrictions.
"The President has claimed repeatedly that state-level debates over voting procedures are worse than Jim Crow or ‘Jim Crow on steroids.’ Nobody actually believes this," he said. “Nobody really thinks this current dispute comes anywhere near the horrific racist brutality of segregation.”
McConnell then turned his attention to corporations.
"From election law to environmentalism to radical social agendas to the Second Amendment, parts of the private sector keep dabbling in behaving like a woke parallel government," he said in a statement. "Corporations will invite serious consequences if they become a vehicle for far-left mobs to hijack our country from outside the constitutional order."
"Businesses must not use economic blackmail to spread disinformation and push bad ideas that citizens reject at the ballot box," he added.
GOP aims legislation at companies:
Republicans have responded to criticism from corporations by declaring boycotts on Delta, Coca-Cola, MLB, and other companies that spoke out. Some even want to use the tax code to punish them.
Georgia House Republicans voted to approve a bill to slash a fuel tax break for Atlanta-based Delta Airlines, but the measure ultimately failed after the state Senate refused to take it up.
A group of Republican senators have also called to strip MLB of its anti-trust exemption.
A spokesperson for McConnell did not say what the Republican leader meant by “serious consequences.”
“Boycotts may or may not work, but what will work is to identify every unique benefit these woke companies get under the law and remove them and require they operate as all other companies in those states have to,” former Trump budget director Russ Vought told Politico.
But Republicans like low taxes:
The GOP’s newfound anti-corporate push puts them at odds with decades of Republican orthodoxy.
McConnell and other Republicans fought for years to allow corporations to flood politics with contributions and to lower their taxes, most recently slashing the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21% in 2017.
But Republicans have no appetite to back to raise the tax rate to 28% as part of his infrastructure push.
“Old habits are hard to break. There are legislators who have served in office for 30 years and this is like learning a new language for them,” Rachel Bovard, senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute, told Politico. “They still think profit motives drive these companies and it's not in their interest to punish conservatives. But you're seeing younger senators and office holders speak out on this and it will shape their politics moving forward."