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As Republicans Fight a Civil War, An Economy Hangs in the Balance

By       Message Richard Eskow       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   1 comment

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The deepening split among Republicans is somehow strangely reminiscent of a recent movie, Killing Them Softly, based on a George V. Higgins novel and starring Brad Pitt. The publicity materials say it's about "dumb guys who think they're smart" and wind up "causing the local criminal economy to collapse."

Spoiler alert: Things don't end well for them.

Tea Party Republicans may want to take heed. They've been endangering the economy for lawful and unlawful enterprises alike, and some people are becoming unhappy. Now the GOP appears to be facing a showdown between ideological purity and the self-interest of the powerful.

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Greed vs. extremism: Who do you root for in that conflict?

Trouble in Paradise

Last week some deep-pocket Republican donors expressed grave dissatisfaction with their party's shutdown and even graver concerns about the possibility of a government default. There's ideology, and then there's the desire to turn a profit. In the GOP, those two forces seem to be on a collision course.

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The Washington Post reported that "tensions bubbled up" at a recent meeting of Karl Rove's two fundraising groups, American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS. "People are totally annoyed," said one attendee at the Four Seasons Hotel event. (Some people can afford to be annoyed in comfort.)

Why wouldn't they be annoyed? Markets have been taking a hit during the shutdown, and we could experience a full-scale financial crisis if the debt ceiling deadline approaches with no sign of a deal.

Conflicts of Interest

One of the largest known donors to Rove's Crossroads organization, according to Open Secrets, is the Contran Corporation. Contran's product lines include titanium oxide pigment, used in paints, makeup, sunscreen, vitamins and food supplements. It's also in the waste disposal, ignition systems, and furniture businesses.

Most of those businesses will be hurt if people cut back on goods and services, which is what happens when consumer confidence falls the way it has been recently. Contran's chairman, 81-year-old Harold Simmons, is as politically troglodytic as they come, but the company itself isn't likely to be pleased with a political party that tampers with its fortunes.

Other major Crossroads donors include Sheldon Adelson, through the Adelson Drug Clinic (Sheldon Adelson gave $42,000,000 to political groups in 2012 through this purportedly charitable organization) and the Sands casino. Adelson's casino businesses would presumably take a hit in a collapsing economy,

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He may be too ideological to care. But homebuilder Perry Homes and commercial real estate firm Crow Holdings would also take a severe hit in a new recession. So would TRT Holdings, which owns Omni Hotels and Golds Gym. Same goes for executive search firm Chartwell Partners, and fellow Crossroads funder Weaver Popcorn. ("Better taste, better value, better for you: Pop Weaver popcorn!")

Coolidge vs. Cruz

But the Crossroads gang's money doesn't amount to a hill of popcorn compared to the mega-corporations behind the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Crossroads' donors may be divided over the Tea Party's tactics, but the Chamber's corporations speak with one voice: It will financially support Republicans who oppose the shutdown. Meanwhile, a number of big-corporate CEOs agreed to meet with Obama, a confluence of events that led the generally pro-Democratic Talking Points Memo website to proclaim: "Big Business Takes Sides With Obama."

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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