Venture onto most companies’ websites, and you’ll see statements about their commitments to taking on climate change. The problem, however, is that the numbers don’t add up — specifically, the number of dollars these companies are diverting toward lobbying efforts to defeat any meaningful climate change legislation. Even more problematic is that many of America’s leading companies are doing this by proxy, as in funding the work of groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable.
Now, these lobbying organizations are focused on defeating the latest iteration of the “Build Back Better” bill, titled the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. The bill, which includes investments for taking on climate climate change along with investments in healthcare, is facing opposition from the U.S. Chamber and Business Roundtable, largely over a proposal to tax companies with more than $1 billion revenue at a rate of 15 percent.
The legislation had been largely tossed aside until Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia reached a deal with the U.S. Senate’s leadership. “Tax fairness is vital to our nation’s economic future. It is wrong that some of America’s largest companies pay nothing in taxes while freely enjoying the benefits of our nation’s military security, infrastructure and rule of law,” Manchin said in a public statement late last month. “It is commonsense that a domestic corporate minimum tax of 15 percent be applied only to billion-dollar companies or larger, ensuring that America’s largest businesses are no longer able to operate for free in our economy.”
Meanwhile, the money keeps flowing from groups who oppose the legislation. Accountable.US has estimated that lobbyists have funneled $9 million in corporate money to legislators who are determined to block or defeat any version of Build Back Better. At the same time, Business Roundtable itself has spent more than $9 million this year on lobbying. Political action committees with ties to the U.S. Chamber have so far spend more than $19 million during 2022.
As independent journalist Judd Legum has pointed out, some companies that would benefit from the Inflation Reduction Act, such as GM, have very strong ties to these business groups — GM’s CEO, in fact, is currently the Business Roundtable’s chairperson. Legum has also cited a survey that concluded at least 70 companies with more than $1 billion in revenues have paid less than a 15 percent federal corporate tax rate.
At least one noteable CEO is calling out his peers for their funding of lobbying efforts designed to prevent companies from paying their fair share of taxes, while also urging them to support Build Back Better. In a recent LinkedIn post, Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert urged the U.S. business community to support the act, concluding with:
“Many companies that belong to these organizations talk a big game on climate — just look at their websites. They should no longer remain silent while the Chamber and Business Roundtable do their dirty work. If you talk about how your company is going to protect the planet, you need to pay your fair share to help scale solutions for things like clean power, transportation and manufacturing. It’s time for the business community to unite in support of the Inflation Reduction Act.”
Image credit: Mikdev va Pixabay
Leon Kaye has written for 3p since 2010 and become executive editor in 2018. His previous work includes writing for the Guardian as well as other online and print publications. In addition, he's worked in sales executive roles within technology and financial research companies, as well as for a public relations firm, for which he consulted with one of the globe’s leading sustainability initiatives. Currently living in Central California, he’s traveled to 70-plus countries and has lived and worked in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay.
Leon’s an alum of Fresno State, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School. He enjoys traveling abroad as well as exploring California’s Central Coast and the Sierra Nevadas.