Business community to Congress: Enough

It wasn’t too long ago that 62 leading U.S. business groups, including the American Gas Association, the Telecommunications Industry Association, and the National Association of Manufacturers, all pleaded with Congress to end the standoff and raise the debt ceiling. “With economic growth slowly picking up we cannot afford to jeopardize that growth with the massive spike in borrowing costs that would result if we defaulted on our obligations,” the groups said. “It is critically important that the United States stands fully behind its legal obligations.”

That was two months ago today. Ordinarily, the allegedly “pro-business” Republican Party would have taken this seriously, but instead, GOP leaders ignored the pleas.

So, business leaders are being forced to ask a little louder.

At his press conference earlier this week, President Obama was asked about working with business leaders to “lobby Congress to raise the debt ceiling.” The president explained that he’s spoken “extensively” to the business community, but they’re often reluctant to push Congress publicly, even if they agree with Obama privately: “[T]hey’ve got a whole bunch of business pending before Congress and they don’t want to make anybody mad.”

Fortunately, some are raising their voices anyway.

A sprawling coalition of Wall Street and Main Street business leaders sent an unmistakable message to lawmakers Tuesday: Enough squabbling. Get the debt ceiling raised.

The message, sent in a letter to President Obama and every member of Congress, puts pressure on GOP lawmakers, who have staked out an uncompromising stance against raising taxes in the partisan wrangling over the country’s borrowing limit.

Republicans rely heavily on corporations for political support and have regularly cited the opinions of these “job creators” in their opposition to new tax revenue. Many of the House GOP freshmen most opposed to a compromise were swept into office with the help of financial support from groups behind the letter.

But the business community, which has largely kept quiet on the issue until now, does not uniformly share the Republican orthodoxy on taxes, according to some lobbyists who helped craft the statement.

The businesses involved in this effort didn’t present a blueprint for a possible debt-reduction plan, and were silent on revenues or cuts-to-savings ratio. The reason is simple: they don’t much care. The corporate leaders just want Congress to raise the debt ceiling; how members get to “yes” is irrelevant.

In this case, the letter was “signed by hundreds of senior company executives and groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.”

So, let’s see. Wall Street wants Republicans to stop screwing around. The business community wants Republicans to stop screwing around. Global investors want Republicans to stop screwing around. The Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department want Republicans to stop screwing around.

But unhinged and uninformed right-wing activists want Republicans to keep pushing their — and our — luck. As of this morning, the congressional GOP is only listening to the activists.