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To protect the NRA, Georgia Republican threatens Delta

Some GOP policymakers in Georgia are so committed to the NRA, they're prepared to punish one of Georgia's largest private employers.
The silhouettes of a travelers are seen walking past Delta Air Lines airplanes parked at gates of Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty)
The silhouettes of a travelers are seen walking past Delta Air Lines airplanes parked at gates of Ronald Reagan National Airport in Washington, D.C.

More than a few of the National Rifle Association's corporate partners no longer want anything to do with the far-right group, and that includes two major airlines. Delta and United Airlines were offering discounted rates through a group-travel program for those attending the NRA's annual meeting, but both companies ended the contract.

That didn't sit well with a Republican policymaker in Georgia with an A+ rating from the organization.

Georgia's lieutenant governor on Monday threatened to prevent Delta Air Lines from getting a lucrative tax cut after the company ended its discount program with the National Rifle Association, in the latest fallout from a deadly school shooting in Florida. [...]Republican Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, president of the state Senate and a leading candidate to succeed Gov. Nathan Deal, tweeted that he would use his position to sink the proposed sales tax exemption on jet fuel.

"I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA," Cagle said via Twitter. "Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back."

If this sounds a bit like political extortion, it's not your imagination. One of Georgia's top officials is targeting one of Georgia's top private employers, effectively saying, "It's a nice tax break you have there; it'd be a shame if something happened to it."

A variety of words and phrases come to mind, but it's important to understand that Casey Cagle's tactic bears no resemblance to conservatism.

In this case, a statewide Republican official is threatening a private company over its business relationship with another private entity. Conservatism 101 says this is exactly the kind of arrangement that government officials and politicians should stay out of.

But in 2018, conservative principles are malleable, to the point that serving the NRA's political interests has risen to the top of the priority list. Delta may employ tens of thousands of people in Georgia, but Cagle doesn't approve of its group-travel program, so he intends to use his office to punish the airline -- as if the NRA has an entitlement Cagle expects Delta to honor.

The principle is tough to defend in a democracy: satisfy the politician's support for a far-right lobbying organization and you get a tax benefit; fail to satisfy him and you don't.

As for what happens now, an interesting legislative fight is brewing. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is a strong proponent of Delta's tax break. Cagle, however, runs the GOP-led state Senate, and he and other Republicans are now balking at efforts to help the airline.