Some companies aren’t fighting Democrats’ tax hikes

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Business lobbyists are derailing the roughly $ 800 billion in new taxes that accompany President Biden’s spending bill, but with opposition from Democrats, they face an additional challenge: the division within their own ranks.

Washington’s largest industry associations, including the United States Chamber of Commerce, oppose Mr. Biden’s roughly $ 2 trillion tax and spending package. But some large American companies are on the sidelines, in part because they support other provisions of the bill to allocate hundreds of billions of dollars to fight climate change.

Companies supporting climate action include General Motors Co., Cummins Inc., and Carrier Global Corp. recently renamed itself.

Cummins, which makes diesel and alternative fuel engines and electrical equipment, said its support for federal spending on climate change measures outweighed its opposition to tax increases.

“Obviously there are elements that we don’t like, but overall we support it, mainly because of these climate change provisions,” said Jon Mills, spokesperson for the based company. Indiana.

Other leaders have said that even if they do not support the tax increases, they will not pressure them so as not to jeopardize the chances of climate change measures being passed. It undermined what might otherwise be strong corporate opposition to Mr. Biden’s tax and spending plan.

“A lot of companies put the political perception of what they do above the profit,” said David Rehr, a former corporate lobbyist who teaches advocacy and interest groups at George Mason University. “They have opened the door to a major tax, and they will have no one else to blame but themselves.”

The decision by companies to refrain from lobbying against the broader Democratic proposal to obtain finance for climate measures is the latest sign of changes in American business.

In years past, companies tended to prioritize public policy issues that affected their bottom line, such as opposing tax increases and new regulations. Today, more and more businesses are addressing other issues such as community policing and funding for social services.

On Friday night, Congress definitively approved a roughly $ 1,000 billion infrastructure spending measure that allows Democratic leaders to focus on Mr. Biden’s broader tax and spending legislation, on which they hope to vote before Thanksgiving.

If approved, the larger bill will move to the Senate, where it faces an uncertain future due to opposition from Republicans and a handful of Democrats.

The larger bill addresses many parts of the president’s agenda, including about $ 555 billion to fight global warming and measures to reduce income inequality and improve public education. Democrats plan to fund some of the new spending by raising taxes on businesses and high net worth individuals.

For nearly 50 years, Washington businesses and their lobbyists have for the most part united in opposing any legislation to raise taxes or expand the size of the federal government.

But now the fight against social spending and climate legislation is largely led by professional groups and individual sectors targeted by the legislation.

Tobacco companies and convenience stores oppose a tax increase on tobacco and vaping products that aims to raise about $ 9 billion over 10 years.

Oil industry lobbyists are trying to block a tax change that would cost the industry billions by eliminating the deductions they now receive for taxes paid abroad.

Pharmaceutical companies are pushing against a measure that could cost them $ 250 billion over a decade by reducing the costs of drugs purchased by the government Medicare program.

Opposition to Mr. Biden’s package is led by the Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and the Business Roundtable, which is made up of more than 200 business leaders representing a range of US companies.

Neil Bradley, executive vice president and chief policy officer of the chamber, admitted that some American companies are staying away from this fight.

“Invariably, in any major law, people make their own independent judgment, and it is not uncommon for some of them to come to different conclusions,” Bradley said.

“We look at this from the entire business community, and for the entire business community, it’s still bad,” he said.

Joshua Bolten, president and CEO of the Business Roundtable, said the plan would “seriously undermine growth, competitiveness and jobs in the United States.”

Several of the CEOs at the roundtable spoke out in favor of elements of Mr Biden’s agenda, such as increased spending on child care, early childhood education and climate change.

General Motors, for example, supports Mr Biden’s comprehensive plan as well as a measure that would extend a tax credit for the purchase of electric vehicles manufactured in factories run by the union.

“GM supports the goals of the framework and, critically, we support the provisions that accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles and make the United States a world leader in electrification today and in the future,” said the society.

GM also said it “supports the Business Roundtable in its efforts to support sound public policies that promote a thriving US economy and support the US workforce.”

Mary Barra, CEO of GM, was recently elected chair of the Business Roundtable, with her two-year term starting in January.

Other members of the Business Roundtable who have supported the climate change provisions or other measures in the bill include Cummins, Levi Strauss & Co., Carrier Global and Alphabet.

Chip Bergh, chief executive of Levi Strauss, a strong supporter of national paid holidays, said companies more frequently advocate for government policies that improve the lives of their employees.

“I think business today has a much bigger role to play in this world,” he said at a recent WSJ conference. “Businesses can make a difference … And it’s the right thing to do.”

Nick Clegg, vice president of global affairs for Facebook, wrote in a recent blog post that “it is our responsibility to help influence policies and technologies that will not only impact the carbon footprint of our business, but that of the global community ”.

Many business CEOs traveled to Glasgow, Scotland for the COP26 climate summit, including Barbara Humpton, CEO of industrial company Siemens USA, who said she supports the climate provisions of the Bill on taxes and expenses.

“Now is the time for the private sector and government to step up and work hand in hand to reduce emissions and implement climate-focused business strategies, as these efforts are laying the groundwork to decarbonize the economy.” , stimulate manufacturing in the United States, create jobs and increase equity, ”she said.

Rich Lesser, global chairman and former CEO of the Boston Consulting Group, which is also attending the conference, said investors, employees and governments expect more from business.

“I am very much in favor of ambitious climate change legislation,” he said, “but I think there are still a lot of details to be worked out.”

This story was posted from a feed with no text editing

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