Column: Only now does Big Business finally discover the downside of supporting Trump

U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington.
A violent mob scales Capitol walls on Wednesday. Business recognizes that this isn’t a good look for the economy of a major democracy, and they’re blaming President Trump.
(Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

The spectacle unfolding all day Wednesday of violent insurrectionists in front of and inside the U.S. Capitol has provoked many supporters of President Trump suddenly to deem themselves ex-supporters.

But it’s not only Republican politicians — it’s Big Business. Specifically, the National Assn. of Manufacturers, which deems itself “the nation’s most effective resource and most influential advocate” for business, big and small.

Once extremely boastful of its close relationship with President Trump, NAM on Wednesday called him out with a full-throated condemnation of “this disgusting episode.”


Armed violent protestors who support the baseless claim by outgoing president Trump that he somehow won an election ... have stormed the U.S. Capitol today because Trump refused to accept defeat in a free and fair election.

— National Assn. of Manufacturers

Especially notable was that the organization condemned Trump by name.

“Armed violent protestors who support the baseless claim by outgoing president Trump that he somehow won an election that he overwhelmingly lost have stormed the U.S. Capitol today,” NAM declared, “because Trump refused to accept defeat in a free and fair election.”

Perhaps more remarkably, the organization called on Vice President Mike Pence to “seriously consider working with the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment to preserve democracy.”

The 25th Amendment would allow Pence, with the support of a majority of the Cabinet, to immediately remove Trump and take his place as president. The provision has never been invoked since the amendment’s ratification in 1967.

But it may never have been as desperately needed as now, with Trump having openly encouraged his supporters to march on the Capitol as the Senate and House were giving final validation to the electoral college’s vote for Joe Biden as president.

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The manufacturers joined other Trump enablers in condemning the capital riot and, in a larger sense, discovering the downside of a president with no regard for the norms of American democracy. Trump’s approach to governing — or misgoverning, as it might be described — has been on open display since his inauguration.


But as long as he was willing to go along with the GOP and business project of remaking government policy in their favor, through tax cuts and deregulation, they were willing to overlook the folly of leaving him in place.

Now they know. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), who yielded to few other political leaders in his fealty to Trump, said on Fox News that the event was “so un-American.”

McCarthy said, “I could not be sadder or more disappointed at the way our country looks at this very moment.... This is not the American way. This is not protected by the 1st Amendment. This must stop now.”

Among business organizations, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable also weighed in.

“The chaos unfolding in the nation’s capital is the result of unlawful efforts to overturn the legitimate results of a democratic election,” the Business Roundtable stated, calling “on the President and all relevant officials to put an end to the chaos and to facilitate the peaceful transition of power.”

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The Chamber of Commerce was especially mealy-mouthed, issuing a statement under the name of Chief Executive Thomas J. Donohue asserting that “the attacks against our nation’s Capitol Building and our democracy must end now” and that “the Congress of the United States must gather again this evening to conclude their Constitutional responsibility to accept the report of the electoral college.”

One might have thought that the attacks were inspire by aliens from outer space, not by the nation’s political leader from inside the government.

The NAM condemnation deserves special notice because that organization has positively reveled in its close relationship with Trump during his term.


By mid-2018, NAM was described as having become “a behemoth in the U.S. capital, receiving unfettered access to the White House and top lawmakers on Capitol Hill.” That year, Trump was invited to address the organization’s annual meeting in Washington.

At that event, Trump bragged about having brought manufacturing back to America. Never mind that the boast was largely mythical. Trump’s trade war actually harmed manufacturing, which suffered a downturn through most of his term.

Trump did deliver a top item on NAM’s long-term wish list, however: A massive tax cut for business, part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The trade organization worked hand in hand with Trump to get the measure passed and took a large share of credit after he signed it.

A strong economy, however, depends on more than funneling tax breaks to business. As NAM clearly understands, domestic stability is also a necessity, and that’s exactly what Trump has threatened.

“We are trying to rebuild an economy and save and rebuild lives,” NAM said in its statement. “But none of that will matter if our leaders refuse to fend off this attack on America and our democracy — because our very system of government, which underpins our very way of life, will crumble.”

Truer words were seldom spoken. For NAM, however, they come a bit late.