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Why Corporate America is quite content with Biden's vaccine policy

Republicans believe Biden's vaccine policy is "an assault on private businesses." Corporate America apparently doesn't see it that way.
Image: Joe Biden
President Joe Biden walks off after speaking about the bombings at the Kabul airport that killed at least 13 U.S. service members, from the East Room of the White House, on Aug. 26, 2021.Evan Vucci / AP

After President Joe Biden unveiled an ambitious new vaccine policy designed to help end the pandemic, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott was among the many Republicans quick to express outrage.

"Biden's vaccine mandate is an assault on private businesses," the governor wrote on Twitter.

There was a touch of irony in the Texan's message. After all, there are some business owners in his own state who wanted to create Covid-19 safety protocols, but Abbott wouldn't let them, launching an "assault" of sorts against "private businesses" that take the pandemic more seriously than he does.

But putting that aside, the governor's message raised a related question: If Abbott's right and the White House's policy is an outrageous offense against the private sector, won't the pushback from Corporate America be ferocious?

It was against this backdrop that Joshua Bolten, the CEO of Business Roundtable – a powerhouse D.C. organization, which lobbies on behalf of corporate interests – issued a written statement in response to Biden's vaccination policy.

"Business Roundtable welcomes the Biden Administration's continued vigilance in the fight against COVID. America's business leaders know how critical vaccination and testing are in defeating the pandemic, which is why so many have invested resources in encouraging and incentivizing their customers and employees to get vaccinated, including providing paid time off. Over the past several weeks many companies have decided to implement a vaccine mandate for some or all of their employees, a decision we applaud."

Perhaps no one told the Business Roundtable about the "assault on private businesses"?

Of course, this is just one organization that advocates on behalf of corporate interests. There are others.

So I checked the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's website, looking to see if the group had anything negative to say about the White House's policy. It did not. The Chamber's Twitter feed didn't say anything about Biden's initiative, either.

The National Federation of Independent Businesses also didn't issue any critical press statements or publish any critical tweets.

In case this isn't obvious, these organizations aren't shrinking violets, shy about expressing their opinions regarding policies affecting businesses. If the president had announced a proposal to dramatically increase the corporate tax rate, for example, it's a safe bet the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Federation of Independent Businesses would have plenty to say.

But yesterday, they didn't. In the case of Business Roundtable, Corporate America actually seemed quite pleased with Biden's policy.

And it's worth appreciating why. While these groups representing private-sector interests tend to be aligned with Republican politics and conservative ideas, the fact remains that business leaders want to make money. They want to thrive in a growing economy. They want healthy employees and customers.

This really isn't complicated: The pandemic is bad for business and Biden has a plan to make things better.

Indeed, whether private-sector leaders are prepared to admit this or not, the president did businesses an enormous favor yesterday: Biden is giving them cover, ensuring that business owners that want to do the right thing not only can blame the White House, they also don't have to worry about their workers going to some other company, since the administration's policy is widely applied.

For all the hysterics among Republicans about the president's agenda, there's no great mystery as to why corporate interests haven't made much of a fuss over the last 24 hours: They apparently think Biden is right.

Update: The National Association of Manufacturers, another traditional private-sector ally of the GOP, also largely embraced Biden's new policy.

"Getting all eligible Americans vaccinated will, first and foremost, reduce hospitalizations and save lives," said National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons in a statement. "But it is also an economic imperative in that our recovery and quality of life depend on our ability to end this pandemic."