Coalition urges Congress to 'stand up to pressure from corporate lobbyists'

Coalition urges Congress to 'stand up to pressure from corporate lobbyists'
© Greg Nash

A coalition of 93 labor, environmental and progressive groups on Thursday urged Democratic lawmakers to reject efforts from corporate lobbyists to water down the party’s $3.5 trillion spending plan.

The groups called on lawmakers to “stand up to pressure from corporate lobbyists” who aim to eliminate tax increases in the spending package that would pay for huge investments in climate change mitigation, paid family leave, child care and other Democratic priorities.

“Now is not the time to let deep-pocketed corporate lobbyists stand in the way of vital public investments in an economy that works for all of us,” the groups wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

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The left-leaning Institute for Policy Studies and the Economic Policy Institute led the letter, which was backed by the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Teachers and other labor groups. 

Their efforts come as corporate America launches a lobbying assault on Democrats’ spending proposal. Business lobbyists are confident they can gut proposals to increase taxes on corporations, foreign earnings and capital gains and lower the overall price of the spending package in the process.

Progressive and labor groups are attempting to push back, but they have far less lobbying muscle than business interests. Corporations and their allied trade associations spent nearly $1.5 billion on lobbying through the first half of the year, compared to $22 million from labor groups, according to OpenSecrets.org.

“After a year of record billionaire wealth and corporate profits, it is outrageous that hundreds of giant U.S. corporations are trying to slash taxes on themselves to undermine the most important piece of legislation for children, working people, and climate in our lifetimes,” John Cavanagh, senior adviser at the Institute for Policy Studies, said in a statement.

The House Ways and Means Committee began the process of considering potential tax increases for the spending package Thursday. 

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Ahead of the markup, the National Association of Manufacturers launched a six-figure print, radio and digital ad campaign Thursday opposing tax increases. The group is warning that corporate tax hikes would stunt the industry’s growth.  

Business interests have allies in moderate House Democrats who have expressed concern about the size of the $3.5 trillion bill and Sen. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinBriahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Emissions heading toward pre-pandemic levels Biden discusses agenda with Schumer, Pelosi ahead of pivotal week MORE (D-W.Va.), who reportedly is open to spending just $1.5 trillion, according to Axios. 

Only a handful of defections among House Democrats — or just one in the evenly split Senate — would doom the spending package, which is being pushed through budget reconciliation to avoid a Republican filibuster.