Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle stirred the pot quite a bit today with a single tweet taking on liberal activism and government cronyism.
I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA. Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.
— Casey Cagle (@CaseyCagle) February 26, 2018
The background: Delta was one of several companies to drop a previously little-known benefit for NRA members, succumbing to the mass hysteria over the NRA’s political activity. Delta, which has a very large presence in Atlanta, has worked closely with, and lobbied frequently before, the state’s legislature for tax breaks and other cronyist perks.
The response to the tweet was mixed, with many (including several prominent conservatives) decrying the use of government money/policy in retaliation for a business’s political stance. Many on the Right felt it is incredibly un-conservative and definitely un-small-government to do what Cagle was proposing.
The problem? The media’s spin on the story was straight-up false. Cagle wasn’t proposing scratching an existing tax break. Georgia allowed its tax break for Delta to expire previously (it cost the state about $40 million per year), and the state legislature has recently been in talks about whether or not to bring it back. What Cagle was proposing, then, was removing the break from the state tax/budget discussion altogether.
And that’s pretty much an entirely different ballgame.
See, this isn’t Delta’s first excursion into politics, and Georgia has been ground zero for many of their anti-conservative lobbying efforts before. In previous years, Georgia conservatives attempted to pass a religious liberty bill that would protect business owners from prosecution should they find themselves forced to bake a cake for a gay wedding (or whatever the trap of the moment is today). Delta was one of many major corporations to (successfully) lobby the state legislature’s more liberal Republicans (does this sound familiar, Louisiana conservatives?) into not even taking the measure up.
So, Delta has no problem playing politics. That’s fine. This is what Citizens United was really about – First Amendment rights for corporations. Much as the Left hates the Citizens United decision, it effectively lets businesses like Delta and others lobby for or against policy in states and at the national level. But, if Delta wants to play politics, they are going to have to deal with the consequences.
You don’t always win.
And, it looks like they’ll lose here. They played a risky game. Taking a controversial stance on the gun control issue simply because the loudest voices noticed a rarely-spoken-of discount for NRA members is a problem when you operate in major Southern areas. Georgia, despite Atlanta’s inner-city politics, is still very much a red state.
Louisiana can learn a lot from this. All too often, we are finding ourselves throwing money at big businesses in order to get them to come here. This is just horrendous policy. It’s unprincipled cronyism and it’s about as un-conservative as it gets. That Georgia is letting Delta know they messed up is a good sign. It means that cronyism can be fought.
In our state, we can compete with Georgia and other Southern states for businesses. We don’t have to throw money at Amazon or anyone else. The answer has always been in lowering taxes and creating a better work and living environment across the board. Texas has been the most principled conservative state, and it is thriving. Businesses love to go there because tax rates are lower, and the population lives very well in most areas urban and rural.
Louisiana? A legislature that is more about its own power and money and spending and less about principles has pretty much screwed us at every turn. The state is good for attracting Big Oil and Gas, or more accurately it used to be, but little else.
Sure, getting rid of cronyism in Louisiana is going to be like pulling teeth, but it’s a necessary step in the right direction – a direction that John Bel Edwards, Louisiana Democrats, and state Senate Republican leadership as a whole seem to be completely unaware of.