Joe Biden pontificated about the existential threat of climate change during the Nevada Democratic debate. Bernie Sanders used the same phrase in South Carolina. I don’t know how many progressive voters or politicians even know what “existential” means, but corporations are definitely an existential threat to Democrats, especially the party’s progressive wing.
The progressive war against corporations hides behind talking points about low wages, unfair tax rates, excessive CEO pay, and cataclysmic climate change that Democrats repeatedly refer to as an existential threat to our existence:
The climate crisis presents an existential threat to all life on Earth. We need bold, comprehensive climate action. Public corporations must take responsibility for the large financial risks posed by the impacts of climate change, while embracing the economic opportunity of being global leaders in developing a clean energy economy.1
The message? Do what our agenda demands or everyone will die.
Do corporations have to listen? That all depends on who is calling the shots.
Warren: fight back against this corporate climate threat
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) isn’t shy about how she wants to deal with mega corporations and her party’s climate apocalypse:
It’s time to wake up and fight back against giant corporations that want to pollute our environment and ask taxpayers to clean up the mess,” said Senator Warren. “I’m reintroducing the Climate Risk Disclosure Act again to give investors, and the American public, the power to hold corporations accountable for their role in the climate crisis.2
Accountable is a pretty broad term that usually means “punish.” An existential threat is even more sweeping and excuse enough for the extreme left to grab some cash to restructure our economy because it doesn’t pay enough to their base.
Progressives who ballyhoo Jeff Bezos’ recent announcement that he will hand over $10 billion to explore the climate crisis don’t understand the real problem. The threat to Democrats comes from massive corporations like Amazon that can do everything better, smarter, faster, and at less cost than the government because their bottom line is profit and results, not politics. This is a very real threat to any progressive politician who thinks robbing corporations is the answer to repairing the planet. $10 billion won’t get the job done, but neither will congressional deadlock.
Corporations can compete with government on a level that should terrify far left politicians like Warren and Sanders. Massive companies control the workforce Democrats are itching to hand over to unions. They own untapped wealth progressives can only dream of spending. Most important, their power does not rise and fall with our election cycle.
What should corporations worry about? Democrats taking power and trashing an economy that delivers.
Existential threat means taking down the biggest players first
They say that if you ever find yourself in jail you should take out the biggest guy first. Having never had that experience I don’t know if this is true or not. It certainly seems to be the progressive strategy for tackling corporate America. For Democratic candidates for president the economic cost of their demands is extraneous as long as they can tell their base it will come from the enemies of the people their 2020 agenda is based on.
This is the number one threat to progressives
Mega-corporations are growing the power and wealth to out compete any political party. Most important, they have power that can’t be wiped out with a single election. The only way to stop them is with oppressive, overreaching regulation and profit-stealing taxes. In lieu of Democratic majority might in Washington this means partisan propaganda to convince the public to trade free market capitalism in favor of something much more sinister.
This is how much Warren, Sanders want corporate leaders to earn
Elizabeth Warren cosponsored the Bernie Sanders “Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act” to grab $150 billion from corporations using this rationale:
Americans across the political spectrum are outraged by the extreme gaps between CEO and worker pay. According to a nationwide survey, the typical American would limit CEO pay to no more than 6 times that of the average worker. About 62% of all Americans – 52% of Republicans and 66% of Democrats – favor capping CEO pay relative to worker pay.3
52% of Republicans are outraged? If we use Sanders’ estimate that the average CEO makes $20 million per year and this is 200-300 times the pay the average worker receives, that means a CEO should take on enormous risk, liability, and responsibility for no more than $600,000 per year. That figure only makes sense in progressive Democratland or on Capitol Hill, where senators and representatives are paid hefty starting salaries by American taxpayers who make much less on average and get empty promises in return.
The Congressional Progressive Caucus’ reaction to the White House’s 2021 budget proposal sheds more light on the problem:
Only a morally bankrupt administration would propose cutting $182 billion from food stamps over 10 years while wasting billions on an offensive and harmful border wall, or steal $900 billion from Medicaid over the next decade while extending massive tax breaks for billionaires and big corporations.4
When corporations are ready to step up, or if they are backed into a corner they can offer alternatives to this progressive agenda that talks too much about money and accomplishes nothing. When Jeff Bezos announced Amazon’s wage hike to $15.00/hr. in October 2018 he matched the failed liberal Fight for $15 benchmark for pay fairness. Extreme left politicians Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders took credit for their coercive, go-nowhere STOP Bezos Act anyway after Amazon made the move without legislative coercion:
I applaud Amazon’s decision to start paying all its employees (including temporary and seasonal workers) at least $15 an hour. This is exactly the response Sen. Sanders and I hoped for when we introduced our bill. We called on Jeff Bezos to do this and be the Henry Ford of his generation and raise wages. I am glad Amazon listened.5
This was a corporate, not a congressional decision. Congressional Democrats failed at their national $15 minimum wage hike. When Amazon was ready it took the initiative out of the party’s hands. As the Hill reported, Google stepped up last April with its own $15 minimum for temporary workers, plus health insurance and a parental leave policy.6 Facebook gave contract workers the $15 hike in 2015.
None of this was good news for progressive Democrats and they know it. They were forced to expand their demands and put an arbitrary ceiling on fair profits, too. That’s the path Sanders and Khanna chose with their copycat Stop WALMART Act:
Walmart made more than $13 billion in profits last year, while the median worker was paid just $19,177. Instead of using its profits to raise wages to a living wage of $15 an hour, Walmart plans to buy back $20 billion of its own stock over a two-year period to enrich its executives and shareholders.7
Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown joined Illinois’ Dick Durbin to propose a unique solution to Democrats’ profit problem:
The Corporate Freeloader Fee applies only to mega-corporations who file at least $100,000 in payroll taxes with the IRS daily for at least 180 days straight. The legislation levies a fee based on the number of employees at a company who earn less than 218 percent of the federal poverty rate for an individual. The fee increases as the percentage of a company’s workforce that earns less than a living wage goes up.8
The progressive message is clear and consistent. Agree with our agenda and do what we say, or else.
Corporations are an existential threat to socialism
While the far left tries to put a socialist in the White House, corporate America gets stronger and stronger thanks in part to a president who doesn’t hate capitalism and understands how free enterprise works. The bigger and stronger they get, the more corporations have the power and resources to do what Democrats can’t.
War against Amazon is about more than unfair pay
What is it about Amazon and other mega corporations that brings out the anger in progressives? They don’t have the political might to get their hands on all that ill-gotten profit.
Common Dreams reported on Sanders protégé Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s unhappiness after the company decided to grow its presence in New York despite her efforts earlier in the year to torpedo plans to expand and create jobs in the city.9 Sanders went so far as to solicit online comments from Amazon workers. He offered these leading, agenda-laden remarks to get things started:
Amazon is one of the wealthiest corporations in the world, and its owner, Jeff Bezos, is the richest man on the planet, worth over $155 billion. Despite this, Bezos continues to pay many thousands of his Amazon employees wages that are so low that they are forced to depend on taxpayer-funded programs such as food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing to survive.10
Ironically, if Bernie gets what he wants his base won’t need his socialism and progressives will lose one of their favorite arguments to crush corporations.
Schiff backs online censorship
Adam Schiff (D-CA) targeted Amazon and other online giants when he advocated censorship of “medically inaccurate information” about vaccines.11 Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) also went after the company because of allegedly fraudulent online reviews, something anyone with the smarts to use a computer should already be aware of. Instead of going after Amazon, politicians should get the word out that everything you hear from members of Congress should also be viewed with extreme skepticism.
People before profit is not how capitalism works
Bernie is nothing but tenacious. On February 10, 2020 he joined Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) in a press release targeting worker injuries:
Amazon’s dismal safety record indicates a greater concern for profits than for your own workers’ safety and health,” the Senators wrote. “We urge you to overhaul this profit-at-all costs culture at your company and take the immediate steps identified in this letter to ensure Amazon’s managers treat your workers fairly and do not require them to risk their own health and safety in the course of doing their jobs.12
“Profit” and “profits” are the important words in their press release. Putting people before profit is another popular socialist theme that we hear again and again. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) tried to wring a little more mileage from the Obama recession years:
Time and again we have seen that big banks and big tech companies cannot be trusted to put people before profit,” Rep. [Rashida] Tlaib said. “Working-class families in my district are still struggling to recover from the 2008 recession caused by corporate greed and recklessness.13
Fortunately we are still a capitalist country. Like it or not, people don’t always come before profit in the business world. That’s how companies make money, keep America prosperous, and help our people succeed.
More censorship?? Google is on the progressive hook, too.
House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Kathy Castor (D-FL), a critic of Trump administration climate policy,14 called on Google to censor YouTube videos that don’t align with progressives. Her January 27, 2020 letter to company CEO Sundar Pinchai is a warning to all Americans that has less to do with climate change and more to do with coercing big business to do what Democrats demand:
As Chair of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, I’m committed to promoting ambitious federal policy that will help us solve one of the biggest challenges facing our planet. I also recognize the need to partner with members of the private sector, including Google, to take impactful action that will accelerate progress as we make sure the United States meets its climate goals. As we all work together to solve this crisis, we must also eliminate barriers to action, including those as pervasive and harmful as climate denial and climate misinformation.15
Agree with us, or else.
Is this still about Citizens United?
It’s been a decade since Citizens United v. FEC dealt a tremendous blow to Democrats eager to stem corporate political influence. The party never let this one go. Members still seeks a way around the Supreme Court’s decision. Ted Deutsch recently introduced the “Democracy for
The Democracy for All Amendment is necessary because your status in our democracy should not depend upon your status in our economy. Whether you work three jobs and barely get by— or you own three homes and barely work—the eyes of our law, the eyes of our government, and our elections must see all Americans as equal. This amendment will get money out of our elections and, most importantly, it will put voters back in charge.16
Did Deutch miss a staff meeting? His party’s entire 2020 agenda is based on the person working three jobs and the person who owns three homes not being equal. While Deutch and his party target “the wealthiest Americans and large corporations capable of spending millions of dollars in our elections,”17 wealthy white Americans are all they have to offer voters to battle every more wealthy mega corporations.
It would be best if progressives just admitted that they want more power and money and when it comes to money corporations have more of it than anyone else in America. Put up, shut up, and pay up is their 2020 election platform. They can come up with every excuse in the book to step the existential threat corporations pose to our nation, but all but the most deluded socialists should be able to see that the real threat is to the survival of a Democratic Party that repeatedly fails to provide anything of value and now threatens our economic survival with Bernie Sanders.
1. “The Climate Risk Disclosure Act Would Accelerate the Transition from Fossil Fuels.” Sean Casten. July 10, 2019. https://casten.house.gov/media/press-releases/casten-senator-warren-lead-colleagues-introducing-bill-require-every-public, retrieved February 23, 2020.
3. “Sanders, Lee, and Tlaib Partner to Combat Outrageous CEO Pay.” Bernie Sanders. November 13, 2019. https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-lee-and-tlaib-partner-to-combat-outrageous-ceo-pay, retrieved February 23, 2020.
4. “Congressional Progressive Caucus Denounces President Trump’s Immoral FY2021 Budget.” Congressional Progressive Caucus. February 11, 2020. https://cpc-grijalva.house.gov/press-releases/congressional-progressive-caucus-denounces-president-trumps-immoral-fy2021-budget/, retrieved February 20, 2020.
5. “Statement: Rep. Khanna on Amazon’s Announcement to Raise Its Minimum U.S. Wage to $15 an Hour.” Ro Khanna. October 2, 2018. https://khanna.house.gov/media/press-releases/statement-rep-khanna-amazon-s-announcement-raise-its-minimum-us-wage-15-hour, retrieved February 15, 2020.
6. Birnbaum, Emily. “Google requiring temporary workers, contractors get health care coverage, parental leave.” The Hill. April 2, 2019. https://thehill.com/policy/technology/436939-google-will-require-healthcare-parental-leave-for-extended-workforce, retrieved February 23, 2020.
7. “Release: Khanna, Sanders Introduce the Stop Walmart Act to Put Workers Over Shareholders.”: Ro Khanna. November 15, 2018. https://khanna.house.gov/media/press-releases/release-khanna-sanders-introduce-stop-walmart-act-put-workers-over-shareholders, retrieved February 24, 2020.
8. “Durbin, Brown Introduce Bills to Reward U.S. Companies that Invest in American Workers.” Sherrod Brown. January 25, 2019. https://www.brown.senate.gov/newsroom/press/release/durbin-brown-introduce-bills-to-reward-us-companies-that-invest-in-american-workers, retrieved February 25, 2020.
9. Germanos, Andrea. ‘We Were Proven Right,’ Says AOC After Amazon Expands in New York Without Taking Billions in Public Cash.’ December 7, 2019. https://www.commondreams.org/news/2019/12/07/we-were-proven-right-says-aoc-after-amazon-expands-new-york-without-taking-billions, retrieved February 13, 2020.
10. “Share Your Experiences Working at Amazon.” Bernie Sanders. https://www.sanders.senate.gov/share-your-experiences-working-at-amazon, retrieved February 13, 2020.
11. “Schiff Sends Letter to Amazon CEO Regarding Anti-Vaccine Misinformation,” Adam Schiff. March 1, 2019. https://schiff.house.gov/news/press-releases/schiff-sends-letter-to-amazon-ceo-regarding-anti-vaccine-misinformation, retrieved March 13, 2019.
12. “Sanders, Brown, Baldwin Demand Answers from Amazon As Worker-Related Injuries Rise.” Bernie Sanders. February 10, 2020. https://www.sanders.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/sanders-brown-baldwin-demand-answers-from-amazon-as-work-related-injuries-rise, retrieved February 13, 2020.
13. “Reps. Garcia, Tlaib Introduce Bill to Protect Consumers from Market Manipulation.” Jesus G. “Chuy” Garcia. November 19, 2019. https://chuygarcia.house.gov/media/press-releases/reps-garc-tlaib-introduce-bill-protect-consumers-market-manipulation, retrieved February 20, 2020.
14. “Congresswoman Kathy Castor Delivers Weekly Democratic Address.” Kathy Castor. May 3, 2019. https://castor.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=402959, retrieved February 15, 2020.
15. “Chair Castor Urges Google to Stop Spread of Climate Misinformation on YouTube.” House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. January 27, 2020. https://climatecrisis.house.gov/news/press-releases/chair-castor-urges-google-stop-spread-climate-misinformation-youtube, retrieved February 15, 2020.
16. “Deutch Testifies on His Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United.” Ted Deutsch. February 6, 2020. https://teddeutch.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=402732, retrieved February 26, 2020.
17. “Bipartisan Constitutional Amendment to Overturn Citizens United Introduced.” Ted Deutch. January 4, 2019. https://teddeutch.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=399461, retrieved February 26, 2020.
Image: U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Joshua Scott. “Is the ocean continuing to warm?” https://climate.nasa.gov/faq/53/is-the-ocean-continuing-to-warm/, retrieved February 25, 2020.