“Big Business” is an expression that refers to a conglomerate of large, for-profit corporations that wield significant influence on public policy by virtue of their economic and social sway in the political landscape. There is no universal view among Democrats on big business, but in general, Democrats are considered to be more empathetic towards the needs and exigencies of workers and supportive of worker’s unions, which is often considered implicit opposition to the interests of big business. There are many Democrats who are employed by, benefit from, and even own or operate entities that are considered a part of big business, but even those Democrats typically maintain that they are more invested in the equitable and fair treatment of workers and responsible corporate practices than their Republican counterparts.
Democrats and Government Regulation
Democratic support for government regulation of the private sector has historically been significantly more pronounced than that of Republicans, and is often considered hostile to big business interests. Regulations frequently result in constraints on industry practices that are perceived as limiting actions on profit margins, and are usually promoted and adopted in the name of worker and consumer interests, and environmental safety. Democrats have implicitly and explicitly suggested over the years that it is the moral and economic responsibility of big business to acknowledge their disproportionate marketplace dominance and adhere to standards of practice that promote meaningful competition and growth in those market spaces of other entities.
Opponents of regulation frequently contend that big business will self-regulate in meaningful ways, as ultimately, sustainability is beneficial for long-term profits. Democrats traditionally maintain that per the historical record of American commerce, big business has not engaged in self-regulation when profit margins are affected in the short-term. Many also believe that it is this lack of self regulation, and a lack of proper government regulation, that leads to economic recessions and market collapses. Many Republicans also believe that the free market needs some governmental regulation, but in general the overall party platforms strongly disagree on the extent of this regulation and what markets it can encroach upon. Democrats have also typically endorsed the regulation of big business as a means of ensuring fair competition and that small businesses have a chance to compete for market share; Republicans typically assert that government regulations do just the opposite, and instead stymie the growth of small businesses and individual entrepreneurs. While these regulations are aimed at subduing the monopolies of a big business on individual industries, they often are paid for by licensing fees, taxes, and penalties that are aimed at all business entities, small and large alike. It is this matter that leads to the discrepancy in beliefs over whether regulations meant to stifle big business are helpful or harmful to small businesses.
The Federal Trade Commission was established under Democratic President Woodrow Wilson in 1914 to protect consumers and promote equal competition in the marketplace. In 2009, Democratic President Barack Obama introduced the Dodd-Frank Consumer Protection Act. A response to the 2007-2008 financial crisis, this legislation was the most aggressive consumer protection measures proposed since that of the Great Depression.
Big Business and Political Competition
Democrats have typically been viewed as more aggressively in favor of antitrust legislation that limits the abilities of Big Business to unfairly dominate a market space and promotes competition-enhancing market regulation. The collapse of the American economy and the Depression of the 1920s and 1930s led to an increased public support for governmental regulation of the private sector, and the 1930s saw a vast increase of big business regulation under Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Some analysts contend that Democrats have become increasingly warm towards big business as a result of the private sector’s relatively new stated interest in promoting social wellbeing beyond corporate profits, through established social giving and community endowments and support. Others have attributed this receptivity as an acknowledgement of how much influence big business wields in election cycles, and argues that no aspiring politicos can afford to alienate wealthy corporate players if they want to win elections, and candidates that continue to openly express hostility towards big business reform may find themselves fighting an uphill battle.
Democrats Vs Donald Trump on Big Business
Most analysts agree that Republican President Donald Trump is overwhelmingly supportive of big business. Mr. Trump has repeatedly vowed to lower regulatory standards that many business owners (big and small) view as detrimental to growth, whereas Democrats have typically argued that these standards have maintained a more level playing field that allows smaller entities to compete fairly in a marketplace where they are threatened to be outspent and outsized by Big Business conglomerates. There is general consensus across political parties that Mr. Trump, by virtue of his political affiliation, his personal background in business ventures, and his substantial support from the private and financial sectors, will work for decreased regulation on big business. It is likely that both Democrats and Republicans will continue to claim the mantle of the American political party working hardest to promote the wellbeing of the average American: the question remains as to whether this is best done with more or less federal constraints on big business interests.
- Democrats Must Overhaul Party, Attack Big Business, Sanders Says – Reuters
- The Promise and Peril of the Trump Economy – Fortune
- Deepening Divide Between Republicans and Democrats Over Business Regulations – Pew Research
- Franklin D. Roosevelt: Domestic Affairs – Miller Center
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