Bernadette Budde refuses to talk about the number of Democrats she thinks will be defeated this election or whether the GOP will win enough seats to control one or both houses of Congress next year. She argues that operating coalitions on specific issues of importance to business matter more than notions of which party is nominally in charge. She is right of course, but also wrong.
Despite everyone’s best efforts to be as bipartisan as possible, the elephant in the room this cycle is impossible to ignore. While neither party is monolithic in its support or opposition to policies that support & promote the conduct of ethical commerce, the leadership of the Democrats in this Congress and this administration has demonstrated a sustained & pronounced disdain for the fundamentals of free enterprise. I know, I am not supposed to say this. Many will argue until they are blue in the face that it is not so. But it is.
The recent unsubstantiated attack by the White House on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the unrelenting claims that business interests are trying to “buy” this election indicate many in that camp care more about political power than making good public policy. To those who work inside Washington, that is not news. While the Chamber is certainly big enough to defend itself, there is a certain in-your-face, nastiness about this anti-business tirade that requires that we call it what it is.
As we have made known several times before, there are many decent, pro-prosperity Democrats in Congress and across the nation that have earned and deserve business support. To their credit, the Congressional Blue Dogs have tried to moderate the anti-business philosophy of their party leaders, as have some of their own leaders. Regardless of which party has control of Congress, these Democrats will be essential to the passage of good prosperity legislation. It is unfortunate many of them will get painted with the same brush as their more extreme colleagues.
In the end, however, business is left to wonder what they can do to protect themselves in the next Congress if the congressional committees are chaired by the same cast of characters. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is an agency out of control and there seems little desire on the part of the leadership in the majority party to do anything about it. So, in many ways numbers do matter if they provide even nominal control of Congress, with its oversight and regulatory responsibilities.
Regardless of which party controls Congress in January 2011, it will probably be as close to total gridlock as anything we have ever seen. The margins will be tight and the administration has proven to loathe changing its course. Despite the most ardent desire of some in the business community to truly act in a bipartisan manner, unless or until the leadership of the majority party changes its attitude towards us, there is little we can do but to work toward changing the majority in charge. It simply is what it is.