Modern liberalism often seems at loggerheads with corporations. But that wasn’t (and isn’t) always the case — and some on the left even wish to see a restoration of friendship with big business. Bill Scher, my weekly sparring partner on Bloggingheads, recently published a New York Times op-ed arguing that more cooperation with corporations is the key to liberal success in the future.
In a recent conversation, Scher told me that President Franklin D. Roosevelt was actually friendly to big businesses before he opposed them. “The more combative FDR got, the less productive he was, Sher said. “Everyone quotes FDR saying ‘The corporations are unanimous in their hatred of me, and I welcome their hatred.’ But he said that after the New Deal was passed, not before.”
“Getting the ball rolling was very critical, I think, for liberalism generally and for FDR’s greater success,” Scher said. “[FDR] didn’t have to be as compliant with corporations, two years later, to get Social Security passed — because he started off on a good foot. Whereas if he started off on a combative foot, fighting the Chamber of Commerce from the get go, it may be that there was no New Deal, that there was no Recovery Act.”
Scher also explained why Barack Obama‘s healthcare plan, and not Hillary Clinton‘s (in 1993 or today), became law.
“Why did Obama succeed — where Clinton failed, and Truman failed, and even FDR failed?” Scher asked rhetorically. “Clinton resisted meeting with the insurance lobby throughout the drafting process, and had the ‘Harry and Louise’ campaign dropped on him.”
Obama’s strategy for passing ACA, Sher noted, “took a different tack.” By cooperating with big businesses, he was able to prevent a full court press against his plan — which had left Hillary’s plan dead in the water.