Top menu

Le grandi compagnie Usa e le elezioni di Midterm

Wall street gira le spalle a Trump dopo la corsa dei dazi contro la Cina e primi cambi di casacca di grandi aziende e società nella polarizzazione politica per le elezioni di Midterm. L’analisi del Financial Times.

When asked by a television reporter about her views on Donald Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports last week, Leah Vukmir, a Wisconsin Republican running for the Senate in the US midterm elections, was unabashedly supportive. “What the president is doing is already showing signs of . . . making a change or a difference in China because their [gross domestic product] is already down,” she told the local TV station. “They are starting to crumble,” she added. Her remarks were at odds with the prevailing view of US business groups that have warned that the Trump administration’s trade war with China could backfire on American companies and consumers, by raising prices and hurting exports. The US Chamber of Commerce has been among the most vocal critics of the use of tariffs. But this did not stop the largest American business group from endorsing Ms Vukmir in her uphill struggle to unseat Tammy Baldwin, the incumbent Democrat, just a few days later. “She will do what it takes to enact a pro-jobs agenda that will help industry innovate and grow for generations to come,” said Rob Engstrom, the chamber’s vice-president for political affairs.

The chamber’s support for Ms Vukmir highlights the extent to which the close ties that have bound Republicans to corporate America for decades have withstood the disruption to the relationship triggered by Mr Trump’s tenure in the White House.  You need to be really sure the candidate you’re supporting is not also speaking for positions that are going to upset your customers, your employees and your stockholders Maria Patterson, NYU Stern School of Business Despite concerns about the damage of a protracted trade war with China, commercial tensions with the US’s western partners and curbs on immigration, Washington’s business lobbyists — and the companies that fund them — are still mostly hoping that Mr Trump’s party retains control of Congress. Among their goals is to preserve Mr Trump’s tax cuts and his deregulation agenda, which were pushed through with strong support from business.  Both could be threatened in a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives, which is forecast by many pollsters, and even more so if the opposition wins the Senate, which is seen as less likely.

“Tariffs are the issue du jour, but whether it’s regulatory reform or tax reform, there’s a pretty clear record of success with a Republican Congress and with the president,” said one senior business lobbyist. “Not a single Democrat voted for the tax reform legislation, which for many business groups was one of if not the most important achievement of the past decade or more”, he added. This does not mean that Republicans have a fundraising edge heading into the vote, in fact the opposite is true. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, $5.2bn will be spent on this year’s election, making it the most expensive midterm contest on record, propelled by a flood of cash from individual Democratic donors hoping to deliver a blow to Mr Trump. Democrats have raised more than Republicans in House and Senate races. The defence and energy and agricultural sectors still overwhelmingly favour conservative candidates, while lawyers and labour unions have remained loyal to liberals, but this year has seen some industries and individual companies shift allegiances. Wall Street, as measured by donations from the securities and investment industry, has given more to Democrats than Republicans for the first time since 2008, the CRP found. The pharmaceutical sector, under pressure from President Trump over drug pricing, is giving more to Republicans than Democrats this year, but by a narrower margin than in the past three elections. And at Silicon Valley’s largest companies, from Apple to Alphabet, Democrats are pulling in a far larger majority of donations from employees than in 2016.

Yet many individual companies are being more cautious about sticking their necks out politically than in previous years. “Politics has become so polarised that you as the executive of a company have such a risk of blowback,” said Maria Patterson, clinical associate professor at the NYU Stern School of Business. “You need to be really sure the candidate you’re supporting is not also speaking for positions that are going to upset your customers, your employees and your stockholders.” On K Street — home of Washington’s lobbying industry — there is still a familiar sense that Republicans on Capitol Hill are more aligned with business interests than their Democratic opponents, and even farmers’ trade groups are sticking with the Republicans, despite bearing the brunt of China’s retaliatory tariffs against the US. Recommended The Big Read US midterms: Donald Trump’s tryout as a ‘master of industry’ Another senior business lobbyist said that trade was an important issue but the “totality” of candidates’ positions needed to be taken into consideration — and the Democratic party had been “lurching far to the left” in recent years following the growing influence of Bernie Sanders, the senator from Vermont, and Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts, within its ranks. There was no guarantee that a Democratic-controlled Congress would be any more open to free trade than the Republicans close to Mr Trump. “Democrats have largely walked away [from business] because the energy in the party has shifted to much more of a government-run focus on a number of issues,” he said.

The chamber, a non-partisan organisation that spends much more of its budget on advocating for specific policies than in political contributions, is only backing a few Democrats running for office this year, whereas early in 2008 it was supporting a much larger share of candidates endorsed by the party — a figure that dwindled under Barack Obama’s administration. Despite Ms Vukmir’s support for China tariffs, there was still a wide gulf between her views and those of Ms Baldwin. “Politics is what we do when we believe there is a fundamental difference between the candidates, not a shade of grey,” said the second senior business lobbyist.