The Big Lie that the Left Is Anti-Business

If there’s one smear that Republicans and Libertarians are fond of repeating over and over again, it’s the idea that Democrats are “anti-business.”

Sometimes they even take it as far as saying that Democrats are actually “anti-business.”

Either way, it’s a smear based on a big giant lie, the latest example of which comes from the former Charles Koch Foundation, now known as the libertarian Cato Institute's Michael Taner.

In a new piece for the National Review’s website, Taner argues that despite their outward differences on many issues, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton share one thing in common: a deep hatred for business and business-owners.

This hatred, he says, has resulted in the “most anti-business election campaigns of any major party in modern history.”

That’s right, the “most anti-business election campaigns of any major party in modern history”!

So what Taner’s evidence for this shocking claim?

His evidence is the fact that both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton want to double or almost double the minimum wage, institute some kind of paid family leave program, and continue president Obama’s push to expand overtime pay for certain types of workers.

Yep, that’s it.

Oh yeah, and the fact that both Sanders and Clinton might raise some taxes, put in place some new regulations, and that Sanders wants to expand Medicare to all Americans.

All of these policies, Taner argues, will make owning and operating a business more “costly” and thus hurt “job-creators” and the economy.

There are a couple of gaping flaws in the argument presented here, but the first and most obvious is the fact that it’s based on one gigantic lie.

To make his point about how dangerous Democratic policies are, Taner cites Greg Mankiw, who says that “the wage a worker earns, measured in units of output, equals the amount of output the worker can produce.”

As Taner explains, “In non-economist speak, [this means] you can’t pay more for a worker than the value that worker provides. Pay, in this case, means the full cost of employing that worker: wages, insurance, training, retirement benefits, and so on.”

What Taner is basically saying here is that we shouldn’t raise the minimum wage or expand family leave because doing so would be giving workers more than they actually deserve according to what they produce and therefore artificially raise the cost of doing business and kill lots of jobs.

This isn’t just morally wrong, it’s economically dishonest.

Since the 1980s and the Reagan Revolution, wages have stagnated even as productivity has skyrocketed.

In other words, raising the minimum wage to $12 or $15 an hour and giving workers paid family leave would do the exact opposite of what Michael Taner says it would.

It would actually give workers a fair share of what they’re producing.

And to be honest, it probably doesn’t go far enough. If we really wanted to adequately compensate workers for all they make, we’d raise the minimum wage to about $20 an hour.

There’s a bigger flaw in Michael Taner’s argument, though, that poses even larger problems for his idea that Democrats are “anti-business”

And that’s the fact that countries that have put in place the kind “anti-business” policies that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders support are actually quite business-friendly and most of their businesses - particularly small and mid-sized ones - are doing better than are ours.

You won’t hear this on Fox So-Called News, but democratic socialist Denmark, democratic socialist Sweden, democratic socialist Norway, and democratic socialist Sweden are all in the top 10 of Forbes Magazine’s ranking of the best countries to do business in.

Denmark is number 1, Norway is number 3, Sweden is number 5, and Finland is number 6.

If the kind of pro-worker policies that Michael Taner slams Hillary and Bernie for supporting really were that bad for business, you’d expect all of these democratic socialist countries to have floundering economies.

But they don’t, and that should pretty much end any discussion about whether not our Democratic candidates' policies are bad for business

You see, Democrats aren’t anti-business; they’re pro-business. They just want workers and employers to both prosper.

What Democrats are against is exploitation, monopoly, and the union-busting, practices that have all expanded during the era of Reaganomics.

What Democrats want is to return the economy to the way it used to work, the way it was before Reagan when yes, taxes were high, but regulations were strong, unions were powerful, and the middle class was booming.

Ignore the libertarian lies; it’s really that simple.


Ou812's picture
Ou812 7 years 13 weeks ago

Interesting take, blaming Reagan and the Republicians. According the Forbes Article mentioned in Mr. Hartmann's post. in 2009, the USA was rated number 2 in the world as the best countries to do business with. After 7 years of a Democratic administration, the USA has slid to number 22 in the world. Don't believe me, here is where you would read it. .

I already hear you saying the Republicans block everything Obama tries. Well, Reagan had a Democratic congress and senate and according to you folks he changed everything. That lame excuse of Republicans blockage is like a batter in baseball, crying the pitcher wouldn't let me hit anything. Good executives and good hitters find a way to make things happen.

bas75924 7 years 13 weeks ago


Well you should also remember that the Democratic Congress always showed a willingness to compromise with Ronald Reagan and the Republicans. This is something that the Republicans have not done for President Obama. There have been more filibusters during the Obama Presidency than during any other prior Presidency.

Frankly, I believe that the business problem in the US is at least in part due to the expansion of the huge business to the extent that small businesses can't compete. Example, when I was young in the 1960s and 1970s small retail businesses flourished in neighborhoods in cities, suburbs and in small towns. The large businesses and growth of the mega malls with stores like Gap, American Eagle, etc. have killed those small businesses due to an inability to compete (volume discounts etc.).

martou888's picture
martou888 7 years 13 weeks ago

What this lady is missing, among many, The Republicans have been hell bent on Obstruction of anything Obama presents before he presents it. A good example is when Mitch McConnell, Majority Leader, made the outrageous comment during Mr. Obama's first term in office: "my only goal is to see mr Obama is a one term President"

This is ignorance, obstruction, smacks of bigotry and a lost sense of his elected office. These misfits are running our country, or should I say trying to run our country and falling short.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 13 weeks ago

As a business owner I can tell you personally it's true having a liberal government does hurt business. Just the uncertainty alone stunts business growth. In Canada I just had a massive change in both state and federal politics, both went far left, and in both cases it has been a disaster to business. My provincal (state) taxes went up 20%, my gas bill went up 14% because of a carbon tax. Min age went up 20%. The new taxes from the fed are not here yet. The scariest thing is I don't know what's next. I didn't budget for this. As a result, no new investment, we have implemented a wage and hiring freeze. Put off any new trucks, forklifts, furniture a total purchase freeze. Over 100,000 workers in a province lost their jobs in the private sector of a 4 million population and the government hired 8,000. Who in their right mind invests anything when stupid decisions are made like that.

The Glenn Beck Review's picture
The Glenn Beck ... 7 years 13 weeks ago

The left isn't anti-trade either, but we are anti-fascism.

cccccttttt 7 years 13 weeks ago

Sweden with a well educated population of 10 million is quite a different

business environment than an unevenly educated US of 320 million.

Boosting wages in selected productive areas of the US is clear.

Mandating it for the whole country is not so clear.

Lets implement Bernie ideas state by state.


2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 13 weeks ago

The steep erosion in the value of minimum wage since the Reagan era is a well documented's not even arguable. This has added to the extreme concentration of wealth the Republican Party is so proud of.

In fact: "The United States has such an unequal distribution of wealth it's now in the league of corrupt underdeveloped countries, no longer in the league of the developed nations according to the latest edition of the world's most thorough study of wealth-distribution." Eric Zuesse Huffpost ....Suissee Global Wealth Data Book....and that was 2014!

How many cars and homes can one CEO purchase making 400 times more than his employees Kend? .......400????

Willie W's picture
Willie W 7 years 13 weeks ago

When I first became aware of the minimum wage, it was 90 cents per hour. Since then, it has gone up by, what, about 800%?? ​ 800%!!! ​There shouldn't be a business left standing. And yet, here we are. Going to 15 dollars an hour is just playing catch up. Stifling raises for all those years has caught up with the elite who continue to try to manipulate the evolution of a growing economy to feed their greed. The rich, who have ignored trickle down economics for so many years, should get with the program. Show a little respect for Mr Trickle Down Regan.

Kend's picture
Kend 7 years 13 weeks ago

As many as he wants 10k. It's her or his money not yours. If the shareholders are stupid enough to allow that shame on them, it's their money. So should all students get the same grades? No more As or Fs just B to D. . Should actors make the same as the lighting guy? Athletes the same as the ball guy. The only way to wages up is demand. By taxing the shit out of guys like you will never get there. If you took all the money away from the whole 1% it wouldn't run the country for a year. You seriously want to take money from private business and give it to the government to spend and this is your solution. Government to pick wnners and losers instead of free enterprise. Please tell me 10k this isn't really what you think the solution is.

dr818dr's picture
dr818dr 7 years 13 weeks ago

Of course the left isn't anti-business. Who wants to keep all of the illegal aliens in the country to supply business with cheap labor and keep wages supressed?

Hephaestus's picture
Hephaestus 7 years 13 weeks ago

Please! Look!

American is a fascist, corrupted political system

And, the uk Is in there with you

It will end in tears!

RFord's picture
RFord 7 years 13 weeks ago

In Tanner's way of thinking anyone that's anti-slavery is anti-bisiness. In his way of thinking businesses should only pay their workers the bare minimum that they can get away with so the CEOs can take in maximum profits. Tanner's just trying to drum up business for the republican party, the party that cares nothing about the welfare of workers. and the party that puts more money in the hands of the already wealthy. He's blinded by the greed that will not let him see that when workers are doing well so are businesses. His theories don't hold water any better than a spagetti strainer.

Colorado Bruce 7 years 13 weeks ago

Having lived many years in Minnesota before Colorado, I follow Minnesota news. Here is a piece comparing Minnesota and neighbor Wisconsin. Business is booming in more liberal Minnesota, a state with a Democratic Governor Dayton and a divided by party legislature. (See: I remember well, growing up there, the effort of business and government to work together for the common and cutlure together...yield quality life. Thank you for listening.

Johnnie Dorman's picture
Johnnie Dorman 7 years 13 weeks ago

In otherwords, "how can what worked in the fifties, sixties and seventies and produced the strongest middle class the world ever knew not work now?" What happened? Reagan came along, that's what happened. He unleashed the greed and irresponsiblity we see involved in our economy, and most of us remember who started it all, they are the same people that want to carry on the same failed economic policies that have turned America into a third world country.

RLTOWNSLEY's picture
RLTOWNSLEY 7 years 13 weeks ago

So long Hartmann, you've blocked my response for the last time. Just another example of a deminished Democrat establishment that long ago sold their soul for larger campaign contributions from the Right's wealthy supporters ! The American People continue to be the biggest losers because those who speak out are quickly thrown off the stage !

Donald J Ford's picture
Donald J Ford 7 years 13 weeks ago

Ignoring the bombastic commentary, let's just look at the facts. I did a study some years ago that found the average high tech worker (I just looked at that industry), produced over $100,000 in revenue per year for their employers, but were paid an average of $50,000. The extra $50K in revenue that they produced went to company owners in the form of profit. That's how capitalism works. The system is based on exploiting labor to make capitalist owners rich. Without a government of, by and for the people to regulate this system of exploitation, you get the income inequality that we have today. Social democratic governments in Europe provide a basic safety net for their most vulnerable citizens and invest in their people through free education and job training. In America, we are becoming a nation of wage slaves with no power to control our own destiny. Over half of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. When government and business collude to exploit working people, you get fascism.

bleeding_heart's picture
bleeding_heart 7 years 13 weeks ago

Selling candy to bollweevils was not cooperation. Get ready for much higher taxes on the rich. Regan's tax cuts (and especially Bush's) will be under attack.

I only hope whoever wins the Democratic nomination keeps it "under hat" so that it gets done as FDR did. Sneak up on you Robin Hood-in-reverse types, OU812.

Maybe we'll ressurect the middle class.

Raising the minimum wage is essential just to keep up with inflation. That's why I say raise it to 11 dollars or so WITH INDEXING. Otherwise we keep fighting this throughout the future. Not keeping up with inflation means you're constantly losing value so that you don't effectively have one at all.

Why do Republicans always want to cut the wages of the poorest of hard workers?

Seems kinda Anti-Christian to me.

2950-10K's picture
2950-10K 7 years 13 weeks ago

Kend/ Kend's wife! : My solution has already been time tested for success in this country.....go back to the pre Reagan tax rates, increase unionization, and end free trade. That's my short answer.

You missed my point about the CEO. Continued concentration of wealth will both destroy our economy and country. As the vast majority becomes low income, who will be left to purchase homes and cars? Feudalism has already proved to be a dismal economic and social failure.

Please read The Grapes of Wrath and get back to me.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 7 years 13 weeks ago

What left? If there were a left in the US, they would be shining a spotlight on our poverty crisis as proof of the significant shortcomings of our deregulated capitalism. We don't see that. Since at least the 1990s, liberals have maintained that our current system is so successful that everyone is able to work, there are jobs for all, therefore no need for poverty relief -- a repudiation of the former left.

DHBranski's picture
DHBranski 7 years 13 weeks ago

This generation rejects FDR's New Deal. For example, what came to be called AFDC was actually first included in FDR's Social Security Act, later separated to focus on services specific to impoverished families. We got rid of that, and have taken several steps to similarly "reform" Social Security, targeting the disabled. Even liberals seem to have been fine with this.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 13 weeks ago

It's not a big lie, it's maybe a broadbrush. There are segments of the left that are, in fact, very much anti business and even against private property but even most from those segments know that many, and often most, people don't agree with them (yet) and that they have to share a society with those who disagree and bargain and demand in good faith (that is, they don't make unreasonable demands of business or expect them to do something harmful to their enterprises.
Thom is more of the center-left, the "mushy middle" - and he gets pretty mushy sometimes. I ain't votin' for no Hillary.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 12 weeks ago

Ou812, Reagan's power was not through the use of force but through demagoguery. He was like Hitler, a beloved despot whom people very willingly gave up their basic rights to. Even Democrats were drinking the kool aid.
Anyway, Reagan's demagoguery was so strong Congress people and even journalists were scared to death of it. Sam Donaldson gave an example of this. He was at a public event and he brought up one of the many scandals of the Reagan administration (they were genuine scandals, not the made up ones or the mountains made out of mole hills of the Clinton administration and which were just an attempt to discredit the Independent Counsel Law, which was set to expire, in preparation for a forseen and hoped for Bush administration) of which the Reagan administration had more than any other administration to that date and was only surpassed in that way by the G.W. administration. Donaldson said, "I expected everybody [at the public event] to be outraged when they heard about the details of the [Reagan administration] scandal. They were - at me for bringing it up."
Reagan was a fraud and represented the Republican strategy of hiring a charming actor or good looking young bubble head, as in the case of Dumb Dumb Dubya, to act as a figure head president and demagogue while the real decisions were made by committees of business executives.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 7 years 12 weeks ago

Iran Contra, Pentagon procurement, farm subsidy, Housing and Urban Development and some others were the main scandals of the Reagan administration. In every case except Iran Contra taxpayer money intended for projects of the government agency was going into administration officials' pockets, big time.
They felt entitled to, it was the zeitgeist of the times. "Greed was good", government (democracy) was bad and beneficiaries of its programs were undeserving - but not they, of course

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