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Opinion

Ronald Reagan vs. Big Business

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Timothy P. Carney,National Review,Ronald Reagan,Analysis

You may not know it, but the Gipper sometimes fought corporate America. On occasion, the Gipper won. Here's a brief story about this clash, from a great essay by John Fonte of the Hudson Institute:

In 1980, as conservatives rallied to Ronald Reagan, many corporate leaders were enthusiastic supporters of former Texas governor John Connolly for the GOP presidential nomination; Connolly was a former conservative Democratic politician who looked and talked like a CEO. Others liked Senator Howard Baker and George H. W. Bush. Mindful of the Goldwater defeat, all these business leaders saw Reagan as too conservative to win. Most CEOs were more comfortable with a mainstream candidate closer to the political center.

One of the big internal fights in the Reagan administration pitted business interests against national-security conservatives. In the 1970s, hundreds of major corporations as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers had joined to form a private pro-trade group, the U.S.-USSR Trade and Economic Council (USTEC). While conservative hawks wanted to curb the flow of military-use items to Communist countries, USTEC lobbied to remove barriers to Soviet trade. The group opposed, for example, the Jackson-Vanik amendment, which placed trade limits on certain Communist-bloc countries that restricted emigration, as the USSR did with Jews and Evangelical Christians.

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