Why Business Is Wary of the Tea Party

Sure, all the talk about small government and low taxes sounds good, but business leaders are increasingly distrustful of the Tea Party. Last summer, 56 business leaders in South Carolina endorsed the Democratic candidate for governor over the sure-bet Republican Nikki Haley, who has rock-solid business credentials. Why? Her embrace of the Tea Party, and its confrontational, disruptive approach. Business leaders are more realistic than activists, they say, and they don’t want extreme candidates. There is no real Tea Party platform, as the movement is leaderless, though they want to shrink government in ways that many conservative business leaders favor. Several of their key candidates will probably lose this election. But their impact is undeniable: they’ve moved John McCain rightward, and defeated Lisa Murkowski and Bob Bennett because they refused to follow suit. The moderate Maine Republican Party now supports eliminating the Federal Reserve. They’re a corporate dream, unless that corporation operates overseas, employs immigrants, and favors infrastructure investment, education reform, and the occasional subsidy. Businesses like a stable economic environment. The Tea Party is “political nitroglycerin.”