Business lobbyists cheer Boehner smackdown of conservative groups
Business trade associations applauded the rant by Speaker John Boehner against outside conserative groups like Heritage Action and FreedomWorks, saying it was long overdue.
Business groups, whose frustration with the Tea Party boiled over during the government shutdown, said Boehner's broadside was long overdue.
"I think we have all said it. The business community has been uniformly frustrated at how strident the ideological groups have been in defiance of reason," said David French, senior vice president of government relations of the National Retail Federation.
Lobbyists said they are encouraged by the fact that the budget accord easily passed the lower chamber despite the opposition of outside groups. They hope it's a sign that the influence of the conservative organizations is on the wane.
"Speaker Boehner said what a lot of us had been thinking for a long time, that these 'purity for profit' groups are taking advantage of well-meaning but politically naive members," said one business group lobbyist.
The pushback by Boehner comes as trade groups are vowing to protect business-friendly candidates in the 2014 elections.
Business groups weighed in for Bradley Byrne in an Alabama special House election and saw him triumph in a Republican primary. Industry donors from Michigan have sought to garner support for a challenger to Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), one of the more prominent GOP rebels.
The conservative groups have often squared off with their industry counterparts in Washington, especially in recent battles over the debt ceiling and the government shutdown. They bristled at lobbyists echoing Boehner's criticism this past week.
"Corporations are some of the biggest seekers of welfare in this country," said Barney Keller, a spokesman for the Club for Growth. "Business groups are often on the side of bigger government and when they are, we will be on the opposite side of them. And where they're not, we will be on the same side."
Dan Holler, a spokesman for Heritage Action for America, said business groups' backing of Boehner shows that the budget agreement was flawed policy.
"The fact that K Street is applauding confirms that the deal was bad and Speaker Boehner's comments confirm conservatives' worst suspicions about Washington that the game is rigged," Holler said.
What corporations large and small seek more than anything else is stability. If that means going along with Democrats on a bad budget deal, so be it. If it means amnesty for some illegals, so be it. If it means raising the debt ceiling without a lot of fuss, so be it.
This is their nature, so it doesn't do much good to judge them harshly. Mr. Keller's thoughts above about working with business groups when it is in both sides' interest and opposing them when they're not is about the best that can be hoped for - as long as the name calling and bad blood doesn't get out of hand.
For that to happen, someone should slap a muzzle on Speaker Boehner.