Despite concerns that the influence of big business would increase after the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizen's United vs. FEC decision, The New York Times reports that corporate influence, at least in the Republican Party, has decreased in recent years.
"So when the Supreme Court opened the sluice gate in 2010 allowing unlimited campaign contributions, pretty much every liberal voice in the country believed that a flood of corporate cash was about to deliver the political system to the Republican Party," Economic Scene columnist Eduardo Porter wrote.
Those predictions, though, have not panned out, he says. Porter even appears to rue the fact that the Republican Party has become more ideological, sticking to conservative principles, rather than providing favors to its corporate supporters.
"From overhauling immigration laws to increasing spending on the nation's aging infrastructure, big business leaders have seemed relatively powerless lately as the uncompromising Republicans they helped elect have steadfastly opposed some of their core legislative priorities," Porter noted.
The Christian Post recently reported on an effort among some conservatives to make the Republican Party more populist by, in part, rejecting crony capitalism. The Party should stop being "pro-business," by handing out favors to corporate donors, they say, and start being "pro-capitalism" by eliminating the market distorting effects of those privileges to the wealthy and well-connected.
"While these arguments are compelling to the average voter, one of the problems that the new populists are struggling with is that Republicans have been part of the problem," The Christian Post wrote. "GOP politicians have been part of a system that hands out government favors to big business in return for electoral support."
If corporations are losing their influence, though, it may be that the populist messages are getting through. Porter, on the other hand, seems to believe it has more to do with corporations simply neglecting to continue greasing the palms of their Republican friends.
"Still, corporations' reluctance to open their checkbooks suggests an intriguing alternative explanation for the rise of Republicans who are willing to defy their will: companies may have spent too little. Their money was swamped by that of big individual donors who are more ideologically extreme," he wrote.
Self-described "libertarian populist" Timothy Carney pointed out that Porter is missing two important points – the rise of the Tea Party and the flow of corporate donations to Democrats in recent elections.
"Since 2008," Carney wrote for the Washington Examiner, "there has been a barrage of counter-evidence to those willing to look closely. Wall Street favored Obama in 2008, as did much of big business. Obama's first big legislative accomplishment, the stimulus, had big-businesses stamp of approval. Obama's health-care law had the support of the drug lobby - the biggest single-industry lobby in the country - as well as the hospital lobby and the doctor lobby. These industries, and the insurers, have worked to help implement the law, winning over Obamacare-wary governors."
Additionally, several recent Republican primary elections have seen Tea-Party-backed candidates running against big-business-backed candidates. In many cases, the Tea Party candidate has won. This would increase the influence of the Tea Party while decreasing the influence of big business.
"All of this evidence was out there, undermining the Obama narrative that it was him vs corporate conservatives. But Obama kept insisting on the narrative. It's finally become so preposterous. New York Times editorial page writer Eduardo Porter is shocked to notice that Obama's tale (and the New York Times' editorial page's tale) was false," Carney wrote.