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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

GA Republican Leaders the New Job-Killers

One of the most-parroted Republican message points over the years has been calling Democrats “job-killers.” The hope is that it would gain some traction with voters in years when unemployment was high.

Georgia Republican leaders, however, are taking a whole new message strategy in 2018. They are pinning a “kick me – I’m a job-killer” sign on their backsides, and Democratic candidates are more than eager to accommodate them. Some observations from recent articles:

In her Vanity Fair article, “Did Republicans Just Give Amazon’s HQ2 the Kiss of Death in Georgia? As Jeff Bezos’s choice for his second headquarters hangs in the balance, Georgia’s choice to punish Delta could knock it out of the running,” Maya Kosoff writes:

As Jeff Bezos’s decision to bestow one North American city with the capitalist honor of hosting Amazon’s second headquarters hangs in the balance, Georgia Republicans are making Atlanta, which is on the short list of the 20 metro areas Amazon is still vetting, as unappealing as possible for the e-commerce giant. Their efforts, it turns out, have nothing to do with Amazon, and everything to do with the punitive measures the state’s lawmakers have taken against Delta Air Lines, one of the many companies that have decided to end promotional discounts for members of the National Rifle Association in the wake of the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Georgia’s response to Delta for severing a relatively superficial deal with the N.R.A. is a significant blow: the bill lawmakers approved on Thursday strips out a $50 million sales tax exemption on jet fuel for the airline, which is one of Georgia’s largest employers. The decision to remove the perk amid a broader tax-relief bill is considered one of the more severe punishments leveled at corporations that have taken the “corporate social responsibility” approach to their ties with the N.R.A.—United, North American Van Lines, Hertz, and Metlife have all likewise terminated their relationships with the gun-lobbying group.

In her post, “Republicans’ spat with Delta could hurt Georgia’s Amazon hopes,” At CNN Tech, Kaya Yurieff shares a couple of choice quotes on the topic:

“This could absolutely give Amazon pause,” said Neeraj Arora, a marketing professor at the Wisconsin School of Business. “The company has taken a stance on social issues in the past.”

“Georgia has really hurt their Amazon bids in recent weeks,” said Nathan Jensen, a government professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

It also indicates the political environment may not be stable, according to Brian Richter, an assistant professor of business, government and society at the McCombs School of Business…”It signals to Amazon that politicians in Georgia are more concerned about scoring points with constituents sympathetic to a particular social view than they are about whatever business or economic rationale they may have to direct benefits to a specific firm,” he said.

Cagle’s measure could also adversely impact Georgia’s booming film industry, which is already taking a critical look at the state as a result of its ideologically-extravagant proposal to ban same-sex couples from adoption. As Brittany Miller reports in her article, “Lt. Governor doubles down on Delta, NRA spat; controversial adoption bill threatens Ga. film industry,” at cbs46.com:

Another controversy under the Golden Dome threatens the film industry. The “Keep Faith in Adoption” Act would make it legal for faith-based adoption agencies to bar same-sex couples from adopting. Some in Hollywood are calling for a boycott of Georgia if the bill passes.

Showrunner Ben Wexler tweeted that if the measure passes, “Let’s be done filming television shows in Georgia.” “West Wing” actor Bradley Whitford echoed those sentiments, saying, “We shouldn’t be pouring millions of dollars into a state that codifies hate.”

This could be bad business for Georgia now and in the long run. The “Keep Faith in Adoption” bill passed the Senate and is now in the House. The Jet Fuel Tax Bill still needs to pass the Senate before it’s signed into law.

If these bills become law, Georgia might as well put a new motto on state license plates: “We don’t need your stinkin jobs.”

If the leadership of Delta Air Lines were to say to GA Republican leaders that their NRA-coddling/Delta punishing bill is a deal-breaker, Cagle’s ill-considered proposal would disappear.

Back in 1964, former Coca Cola chief Robert Woodruff and CEO J. Paul Austin stood up to segregationist business leaders who were pushing a boycott of a dinner to honor MLK for winning the Nobel Prize for Peace. “But then Coca-Cola put its giant corporate foot down, and changed Atlanta’s history,” writes Jim Burress at npr.com.

“J. Paul Austin was from LaGrange, Ga., but he had been in South Africa for the last 14 years before coming back to Coca-Cola,” says former U.N. Ambassador Andrew Young, a close friend of King who also attended the dinner. “He had seen what apartheid had done to the South African economy. So he was very strong on Atlanta not giving in to this kind of pettiness and racism.”

The New York Times published a front-page story about the tepid response King was getting in his own hometown, and Austin decided to flex Coca-Cola’s muscle.

“The phrase that he was quoted as saying was that ‘Coca-Cola cannot stay in a city that’s going to have this kind of reaction and not honor a Nobel Peace Prize winner,’ ” Young says.

The ultimatum worked. The event quickly sold out, says Mark Pendergrast, author of Of God, Country and Coca-Cola.

“If Robert Woodruff — who basically could run the town of Atlanta — if he had not let it be known that the white business community was going to honor Martin Luther King at this dinner, I don’t think it would’ve happened,” Pendergrast says.

Almost 1,600 people attended the dinner, held at Atlanta’s Dinkler Hotel, to honor King and his Peace Prize.

King began his speech, “This marvelous hometown welcome and honor will remain dear to me as long as the chords of memory shall lengthen.”

The event proceeded “like there’d never been a problem,” Young says, and the audience even stood and sang “We Shall Overcome.”

In 2018, Delta Airlines is also faced with a similar moment of truth, in which they can choose to stand firm for decency and safety of children or cave to the gun lobby and their minions in the GA legislature. If they make the wrong decision, it could cost GA many thousands of jobs from Amazon and the film industry, as well as convention business. If they make the right choice, they could help usher in a new era of corporate social responsibility in the heart of the south.

One comment on “GA Republican Leaders the New Job-Killers

  1. Martin Lawford on

    If giant corporations like Amazon, Delta, or Paramount Studios or pressure groups like the NRA can decide public policy in Georgia or anywhere else, why should we bother to hold elections?


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