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Delta's Political Baggage Hurts Business

Tony Perkins · Feb. 28, 2018

Could the alliance between Big Business and the GOP be coming to an end? We can only hope so!

Four years ago, Delta Airlines filed trademark protection for its motto, “The World’s Most Trusted Airline.” While it might be able to protect its motto in a court of law, it’s becoming more difficult to protect its claim in the court of public opinion. In 2016, after high-profile religious discrimination cases like former Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran, Georgia lawmakers introduced a version of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Despite broad public support, politicians like Gov. Nathan Deal surrendered religious freedom protections to economic threats from Fortune 500 companies like Delta Airlines.

Lately, corporations have weighed in with economic threats on a host of conservative social policies. This has increasingly put Republican lawmakers who support lower taxes and less regulation (all good for business) at odds with their constituents who are just as concerned about the moral economy. That conflict is now center stage in Georgia as Delta Airlines, headquartered in Atlanta, has again let the Left take the controls, this time weighing in not on the First Amendment but the Second.

In a slap at the National Rifle Association, Delta tweeted that it would be “ending the [NRA’s] contract for discounted rates through our group travel program. We will be requesting that the NRA remove our information from their website.” The decision, it tried to explain, “reflects the airline’s neutral status in the current national debate over gun control amid recent school shootings. Out of respect for our customers and employees on both sides, Delta has taken this action to refrain from entering this debate and focus on business. Delta continues to support the 2nd Amendment.” Neutral? The status quo would have been neutral. This was a direct attack on Americans who believe in the right to keep and bear arms.

In a desperate attempt to justify the move, a spokesman insisted that the airline wouldn’t get involved in “any side of any highly charged political issue that divides our country.” Really? How does it explain signing on to Supreme Court briefs supporting same-sex marriage, an idea that half of the country opposes? Somehow that wasn’t a “highly charged political issue that divided our country.” If you’re going to advocate radical causes, at least be honest about it.

Fortunately, Republican lawmakers are finally standing up to Big Business, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R), who’s a front-runner for governor, had news for the airline. If Delta ends its partnership with the NRA, it can kiss its tax breaks goodbye. “I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with the @NRA. Corporates cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.” He’s right, said Rick Jeffares, a candidate for Cagle’s job. “If Delta is so flush that they don’t need NRA members’ hard-earned travel dollars, it can certainly do without the $40 million tax break they’re asking Georgia taxpayers for.”

For Georgians, though, this must be a frustrating display. After all, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) sold Georgia’s First Amendment rights down the river in the fight over the religious liberty bill. Dana Loesch touched on this in her pushback to the Left’s crusade, “To those saying #DumpNRATV: The NRA has been the biggest defender of free speech. I find it interesting that those individuals who simultaneously preach about free speech want to silence the speech of the millions of people who make up NRA membership.”

Most people would agree that the collapse of the First Amendment is, in many ways, what led to the fight over the Second. Maybe if Deal had listened to people like Cagle from the beginning, his state and others wouldn’t be in this mess in the first place. It’s capitulation like his that emboldens the bullies on the other side. And once these extremists sense that they can push you around, they will.

The problem for Delta Airlines and other companies who want to stop doing business with conservatives is this: They’re only hurting themselves. These favorable business climates only come from conservative legislators who understand that real freedom leads to economic growth. That’s why red states like Texas and North Carolina are so enticing to businesses — because their social values have not only built a foundation for workforce and family success but thriving corporations too. If intolerant bullies like Delta want to move to high-regulation, high-tax states, let them!

Monday, New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) invited Delta to move its headquarters to a state where it would be appreciated. That’s not exactly tempting, experts point out, since it would mean moving 23 spots lower on Forbes’s Best States for Business list. The real solution, as it’ll quickly learn from consumers, is for Delta to leave politics alone and stop sticking its nose in issues it doesn’t belong. If executives insist on it, that’s their right. But once Americans see that business is abandoning their values, they’ll abandon business.

Originally published here.

Russell Vought: To Be or Not to OMB?

Mick Mulvaney has his hands full as the head of the Office of Management and Budget. So if anyone is relieved to see that the Senate is finally going to vote on Russell Vought, it’s him. After eight months of waiting for backup, Republicans are ready to move the nomination of his second-in-command.

For Vought, it’s been a rocky road to confirmation. First, he was the target of the anti-faith Left, which argued that a Christian had no place in public service. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) delivered the rant heard ‘round the world when he shouted until he was red in the face that Vought wasn’t qualified for the job because he believes Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation.

The aggressive and bizarre attack on Vought’s Christianity (which Sanders called “hateful,” “indefensible,” and “insult[ing]”) was an eye-opening display for most Americans, who may not have realized just how much contempt some liberals have for the majority religion in America. As far as Sanders is concerned, Christians in government have four options: They can hide their faith, deny it, recant it, or work elsewhere. As Emma Green wrote for The Atlantic, “It’s one thing to take issue with bigotry. It’s another to try to exclude people from office based on their theological convictions.”

Although the experience was an uncomfortable one for Vought, it certainly crystallized the debate over religious hostility in America. People from all corners of politics stood up and demanded Sanders’s (and later, Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s, D-CA) apology. It never came. In fact, Feinstein would find herself at the center of another firestorm months later for insisting that it’s impossible to serve both God and country in a fierce attack on Judge Amy Barrett.

She was confirmed anyway, and Vought will have the chance to join her next week when the Senate holds its long-overdue vote. Let’s hope it sends the right message on religious liberty by confirming him to OMB.

Originally published here.

House Sends a Trafficking Signal

Sex trafficking may be one of the oldest forms of slavery in America, Rep. Ann Wagner writes, but our government still doesn’t have a great track record fighting it. Her legislation aims to change that. Although both sides of the aisle have joined forces to crack down on a practice that’s robbed children of full and healthy lives, Congress has had a tough time keeping up with the online side of the trade.

Under Wagner’s Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), prosecutors (and victims) would finally have the tools to punish anyone who uses the Internet to support or facilitate this kind of prostitution. FOSTA, Wagner explains, “will create a new crime that targets how websites are engaging in the online sex trade.” Over the past several years, the underground business of sex slavery has exploded online, where people’s identities are protected. “New research shows that underage victims are increasingly likely to first meet their trafficker online, and the majority of underage victims have been advertised or sold online. How is it that America’s children can be sold online like a t-shirt or take-out?” Wagner asks. “It’s because websites … have beaten the system and created sophisticated marketplaces where traffickers and buyers can anonymously post and respond to ads selling victims.”

Tired of seeing the loopholes of the current law exploited, House members are working to get a vote on a tougher law that will make it easier for states to act. As part of the measure, victims would also have a private right of action to sue if these online operators helped to create these services. “I find it hard to imagine that if a neighborhood business hosted a slave auction, the auctioneer would not be held criminally liable. But that’s exactly what is happening with websites like Backpage.com today… Congress never intended,” Wagner pointed out, “to create a lawless internet where businesses can commit sex trafficking crimes online that they cannot commit offline.”

Monday night, the House Rules Committee gave FOSTA the green light. While there are still some issues to iron out, including the differences between Wagner’s language and the Senate’s, most people expect the legislation to be one of the more popular items on Congress’s schedule this year. And why not? Too many predators lurk in dark corners of the Internet, waiting to destroy innocent lives. It’s time to make sure justice is done.

Originally published here.

This is a publication of the Family Research Council. Mr. Perkins is president of FRC.

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