Politics

Tea Party targets big business

“If you look at President Obama’s healthcare legislation and cap and trade, there’s only one reason those things got as far as they did – they had big business support,” said Tom Borelli, Director of the National Center for Public Policy Research’s Free Enterprise Project. Borelli is teaming up with Freedomworks President Matt Kibbe to promote responsible, sound business practices, and beginning next year, the two will begin encouraging supporters to boycott big business that lobbies for a “progressive” agenda.

According to Kibbe and Borelli, companies that get involved in lobbying for legislation that hurts consumers should feel the consequences in their balance sheet.  Now, they are doing everything they can to make sure that happens.

Their primary focus will be on companies that lobbied for legislation like cap and trade and healthcare reform – two cornerstones of the Obama agenda.

“Big business has had huge impact on public policy,” Borelli told the Daily Caller. “It’s time to make business pay the price for lobbying for big -business politics,” he added before singling out The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America  (PhRMA) and the member companies of the U.S. Climate Action Partnership (USCAP) as potential targets.

“PhRMA was a huge backer of Obamacare,” said Borelli. “Members of Congress gave [USCAP] credit for cap and trade passing the House. These policies are very unpopular with conservatives and Tea Party activists. It’s reasonable to hold them accountable just like we hold politicians accountable.”

The timing of Kibbe and Borelli’s project is no coincidence. The two groups just released a poll Tuesday that showed when consumers are told about a company’s lobbying for progressive legislation, their opinion of the company drops dramatically.

General Electric, for example, started out with a 51 percent favorable image among self-identified conservatives. However, when participants were told about GE’s support of liberal policies like cap and trade, as well as CEO Jeffrey Immelt’s coziness with the Obama administration, that rating fell to 20 percent.

The poll also questioned consumers about Johnson & Johnson – an American manufacturer that lobbied heavily for health reform and cap and trade through USCAP. The polls found that the company’s favorable rating fell from 69 percent to 16 percent once participants were told about its lobbying practices.

“If [these companies] had lobbied for real reform, we might have actually gotten significant reform,” said Borelli. “But instead, these CEOs jumped on the Obama bandwagon to cut a deal for themselves.”

“Our whole idea is to focus on a few companies until they say ‘uncle’,” he added.

Although Kibbe and Borelli are probably the first to organize a systematic effort to channel Tea Party angst into punishing big business, conflict between the two isn’t anything new. Tea Partiers have blasted big business in the past for supporting progressive policies that they believe go against the principles of limited government and the free market.

That animosity is reciprocated on the part of big businesses that view the Tea Party as hostile and too unwilling to compromise. And as a recent cover story in Businessweek pointed out, with polarizing candidates like Christine O’Donnell and Joe Miller, the Tea Party is the last place businesses that depend on the government will look to support.

“Ultimately what we’d like to do is get companies back to lobbying for limited government,” Borelli told the DC.

“The left has been punishing companies forever,” he added. “We’re just taking one of their plays from their playbook. Once companies start feeling the pain, they’ll think twice.”