“People say they are for this new stakeholder economy, that they are committed to sustainability,” said Mr. Hollender, now chief executive of the liberal American Sustainable Business Council. “But at the same time, there is a system of incentives designed to maximize profits, and when those profits are threatened, companies don’t like it.”
More and more major business groups have backed down from the accusation. Mr Bradley, of the Chamber of Commerce, agreed that parts of the Democratic vision reflected the long-held wishes of the business lobby. Accessibility to child care is a high priority, he said, and tackling climate change with investments in clean energy is long overdue.
“The administration was right to increase enforcement of the IRS to close the tax gap,” he added. “We want a pro-growth tax code, but we want people to comply with this tax code.”
But he said the way Democrats approached these issues – hastily bundling them into a voluminous $ 3.5 trillion measure to go through a fast-track process known as reconciliation – guaranteed opposition.
For example, business groups worked with lawmakers on both sides to try to create a paid family and medical leave program that would be paid for with a payroll tax, shared between business, workers and government. To meet Mr. Biden’s pledge not to raise taxes for people with incomes below $ 400,000, the payroll tax has been phased out, replaced by a variety of tax increases on the rich and the companies that are no longer linked to the program they are to finance.
“Paid family leave, outside of a context of reconciliation, would require intense negotiation and compromise, but it wouldn’t be impossible if we could find a proposal that we could support,” Bradley said. “Within the reconciliation, it only gets worse.
The Business Roundtable, which represents the heads of the country’s largest companies, has expressed a similar wish. “There is strong bipartisan support for some of these policies, and we encourage Congress to pass them through this deliberative process, not through reconciliation,” the group said in a statement.