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’What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.” This was a defining American adage in the last century, because it was true: US corporations helped to make our country the most prosperous in the history of the world. But with the profits came a corporate duty to care for the strength of the nation and its citizens.
That bargain has broken down. Many in corporate America feel no obligation to act in the best interest of our country.
Historically, corporate America played an integral role in building thriving communities, stable families and a strong nation. US companies made a comfortable lifestyle available to millions of working- and middle-class Americans.
To help our corporations fulfill their patriotic role, the GOP especially enacted business-friendly policies. We kept tax rates low, slashed red tape where appropriate and limited the reach of labor unions. But somewhere along the line, corporations began prioritizing short-term financial windfalls and ruthless offshoring.
Corporate America began to view these good jobs, families, communities and even the nation as an afterthought. American workers of all backgrounds suffered as a result. Corporate greed annihilated an entire way of life.
Then a culture shift followed. It became trendy for executives to view themselves as “citizens of the world.” Love of country, free speech and traditional faith and other bedrock American ideals became unfashionable.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2013 reportedly asked Xi Jinping to name his unborn child (Xi declined), and his tech giant would soon adopt the Chinese strongman’s values when it came to free speech.
Today, corporate America routinely flexes its power to humiliate politicians if they dare support traditional values at all.
Multinational firms threaten boycotts over pro-life legislation. Cowardly sports leagues pull events out of states that dare pass legislation they don’t like. Firms like Delta parrot woke talking points, even as they cut deals with China, lending Beijing legitimacy and funding as it commits genocide in Xinjiang.
These hypocrites want to have it both ways: to coast off everything that makes America the most business-friendly country in the world, while moving good jobs out of our nation and waging a merciless war against traditional values.
And so far, they’ve succeeded. Getting in bed with the Chinese Communist Party has opened up enormous new markets. Outsourcing jobs has been a tremendous cost-saver. Bending a knee to woke progressive craziness has made CEOs more popular than ever in elite settings.
But increasingly, the bill is coming due. More politicians are realizing what I understand: As our corporate leaders care less and less about the strength of our nation, the policy advice they give lawmakers makes less and less sense for our country.
Cutting corporate taxes, and especially investment taxes, makes sense if US companies are going to invest in American industry. But if they’re instead prioritizing offshoring operations or simply returning windfalls to shareholders, then policymakers are going to start being more careful in how we structure tax cuts.
Employer-friendly labor laws make sense in a world where corporate CEOs feel an obligation to their fellow countrymen and workers. But the logic of resisting labor representation on behalf of corporate management falls apart if an American worker is no different to the corporation than any other input.
And taking aggressive positions on woke cultural issues that tear at our national fabric might seem like an easy way to avoid boycotts from activists. But those of us charged with keeping America strong recognize that these positions are the greatest threat to our long-term viability.
No policymaker would allow a company to dump toxic waste into a river upstream of a thriving town he is charged with governing. Yet corporate America eagerly dumps woke, toxic nonsense into our culture, and it’s only gotten more destructive with time. These campaigns will be met with the same strength that any other polluter should expect.
Our nation needs a thriving private economy. And patriotic business leadership has historically underwritten the American Dream. But lawmakers who have been asleep at the wheel for too long, especially within my own party, need to wake up. America’s laws should keep our nation’s corporations firmly ordered to our national common good.
The work of rebuilding — and rebalancing — the relationship between our nation and its large corporations begins today.
Marco Rubio represents Florida in the US Senate.
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