Treasure and Hearts

Greg Sargent skewers business lobbyists today for having bankrolled the rise of the Tea Party element of the Republican Party and now complaining about how loony and uncontrollable it is on key issues. You reap as you sow, Greg suggests, but he also wonders if business groups will eventually rebel in a serious way and “distance themselves” from a Republican Party they no longer recognize.

But Matt Ygesias take this line of reasoning another step, and argues that for all the whining about “extremists” and “wackos,” business interests clearly think they’re getting their money’s worth in an ever-more-lopsided commitment to the GOP, particularly when you look at the campaign spending patterns of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce:

They looked at the behavior of congressional Republicans in 2011 and decided that they really loved Republicans and that Republicans holding power in congress was “what organizers call ‘the first insurance policy’ if Obama were to get reelected.” And now they’ve had even more time to observe congressional Republicans’ behavior, and they’ve decided that they still love Republicans. So far 100 percent of chamber spending on 2014 campaigns has gone to Republicans, including Republican leader Mitch McConnell.

Which, again, isn’t to deny that on an issue-by-issue basis the chamber sometimes disagrees with Republicans. But they don’t really seem to care about that very much. And it’s no surprise. If you look at their jobs and growth agenda, the No. 1 item is to cut taxes, the No. 2 item is to do less regulation of fossil-fuel pollution, and the No. 3 item is to gut Obamacare. Immigration isn’t even on the list.

To cite the well-known teaching of Jesus found in two Gospel accounts: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” The business lobby’s dollars speak more loudly than its words.

And more to the point, for all the talk of Big Business’ ability to keep congressional Republicans from killing immigration reform legislation or risking a debt default, what sort of message are they sending when Republicans do crazy things but don’t get punished when the time comes to divvy up the campaign cash? The question answers itself.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.