How big business lost Washington

From The Washington Post:

With two months to go before the November election, there’s one group that already knows it will be a loser: big business.

Indeed, one irony of the 2016 election is that populist antipathy toward corporate America seems to be peaking at precisely the moment when corporate influence on government policy is as low as anyone can remember.

After years of frustration with partisan gridlock and soured relations with both parties, chief executives of America’s biggest companies have pretty much given up on Washington, where their opinions and support were once valued.

In Congress, the Republican caucus has been hijacked by tea party zealots who dismiss them as crony capitalists while the Republican presidential nominee demonizes them for shipping jobs overseas. The Obama White House is viewed by business as hostile and unyielding, while the Democratic Party has made “corporate greed” a signature issue.

“The difficult relationship between business and government is the worst I have ever seen it,” Jeffrey R. Immelt, the longtime chief executive of General Electric, wrote this spring in his annual letter to shareholders. Asked in July if corporate leaders could help end the political dysfunction, Immelt told an interviewer from LinkedIn that the idea of getting 100 CEOs to come to Washington to push some policy is now just “a laugh line.”

“At this point, it is doubtful that either party wants to be involved with big business,” said Vin Weber, a former member of the Republican House leadership who now lobbies for corporate clients.

“Honestly, I don’t think big business matters much anymore,” said William Daley, a banker who served as commerce secretary in the Clinton administration and chief of staff in the Obama White House.

“Corporate America is hunkered down, watching the wing nuts of the right and left fire over their heads,” said W.J. “Billy” Tauzin, the Louisiana Democrat-turned-Republican who …

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