REVOLT OF THE CEOs….In the current issue of the Washington Monthly, Chris Hayes says that the collapse of the Republican Party has caused big corporations to take a fresh look at the world around them. And what they see is a lot of uncertainty over healthcare and a lot of uncertainty over climate change. And big corporations don’t like uncertainty.
So, slowly but surely, they’re starting to hop on board the national healthcare and global warming bandwagons. As Chris colorfully puts it, they’re crying out, “Please, for the love of God, regulate us.”
Well, maybe. But toward the end of his story there’s this:
In the absence of federal leadership, state governments have rushed in to fill the vacuum, passing rafts of legislation meant to encourage alternative energy use, curb carbon emissions, and provide health insurance for their citizens. The initiatives on both these fronts — from Massachussets Governor Mitt Romney’s universal health care reform to New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s recently unveiled congestion pricing — have triggered fears among corporations that they’ll have to deal with a state-by-state patchwork of fifty different regulatory regimes, giving them a powerful incentive to support a comprehensive nationwide approach.
….”The corporate guys are beginning to think this is going to happen,” said Bill Galston, a senior policy adviser in the Clinton White House and a current fellow at the Brookings Institution, referring to health care and climate change legislation. “They are willing to make their peace with the welfare and regulatory state as long as they can have some say. What they don’t want is for the train to leave the station and they’re not in the first-class car.” The Chamber of Commerce’s Josten summed up his members’ views this way: “You want a seat at the table, because if youâ€™re not at the table you may be on the menu.”
Now, don’t get me wrong: even a little bit of movement is a good thing. And I don’t care much what their motivation is. But a lot of what’s happening here on the global warming front involves corporations trying to preempt tough state regulations with weaker federal rules — not exactly a sign of getting on the liberal bandwagon. Likewise, although some CEOs are genuinely concerned about skyrocketing healthcare costs, for the most part they seem to be simply adapting to the new sheriff in town. That “seat at the table” they’re asking for isn’t because they all took vacations in Stockholm this winter and came away true believers in universal healthcare. It’s because they want to make sure that if something is going to happen, it’ll be as little as possible.
In other words: sure, this is good news. At the same time, keep your hand on your wallet. These guys need to earn a seat at the table, not just be given one.