Briggs Gets It. Banks Doesn’t

James Briggs is currently an opinion columnist for the Indianapolis Star. (I say “currently” because for the past several years, the Star has employed one columnist at a time to opine about the news–usually national– arguably to distract readers from recognizing the extent to which the newspaper doesn’t cover state or local government. But I digress.)

I have tended to agree with Briggs’ take on the various matters he’s covered, and a recent column was no exception.The target was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, and his retaliation against Disney for having the temerity to oppose his “Don’t say Gay” bill. Briggs wonders whether Florida’s break between business and the GOP will spread to other Red states.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ war on Disney feels like a potential breaking point for Republicans and big business.

The question is whether the rift will extend beyond certain regions (such as the Southeast) and personality-driven politics (DeSantis boosts his national profile by taking on that lib, Mickey Mouse) to alter the governing philosophy of Republicans in red states across the country.

As Briggs notes, the traditional alliance between the GOP and big business has become strained, as a number of corporations have responded to public opinion by taking political positions that have angered Republican culture warriors. He mentions Dick’s Sporting Goods, which led large retailers to stop selling semiautomatic rifles and ammunition in 2018, and decisions by Coca-Cola and Delta to oppose Georgia Republicans’ voting legislation last year.

The most famous Indiana example of government clashing with big business, of course, was the 2015 response of Hoosier business to the effort by then-Gov. Mike Pence and the Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly to pass an altered version of the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act–a version that would have facilitated anti-LGBTQ discrimination. Business won that conflict.

This year in Florida, however, DeSantis’ obedient state legislature  passed a bill to eliminate a special district that enables Disney World to operate as its own municipality in the state. The effective date of the measure was delayed until after the midterm elections, undoubtedly because–if it goes into effect– it will raise taxes and shift enormous debt from Disney to Florida taxpayers. (Culture wars come at a cost…)

Some Indiana Republicans are agitating for that shift as well, most notably U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, who has called out Eli Lilly & Co. and bragged about being blacklisted by the Indianapolis drugmaker’s political action committee over objecting to Joe Biden’s election certification last year. Banks also is among 17 Republican members of Congress who wrote to Disney expressing opposition to extending copyright protection for Mickey Mouse beyond 2024.

The sentiment is simmering throughout Indiana. Rank-and-file Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly have been putting the state’s top companies on their heels in recent years, including the most recent session when they introduced legislation that would have all but banned employer vaccine mandates.

I find this 180 degree shift in Republican philosophy gobsmacking. The GOP used to be overly deferential, if anything, to corporate America’s freedom to manage its own business affairs.

Briggs is confident that Indiana will not follow DeSantis’ authoritarian lead. His reasoning is persuasive, but depressing. Essentially, he says Florida remains a state where people want to live and do business. It’s the eighth-fastest-growing state, and it has three of the 10 hottest housing markets. It’s “attracting the population and talent to drive a thriving business climate.”

Indiana is a tougher sell. Eli Lilly CEO David Ricks recently laid that out in brutal terms during a speech to the Economic Club of Indiana.

“Our education attainment in the state is not good,” Ricks said, as reported by WISH-TV. “The ability to reskill the workforce, I think, could improve. Health, life and inclusion, overall, I think, conditions rank poorly nationally in our state. And also workforce preparedness, also related to reskilling, is a liability for us.”

Ricks might have elaborated on that thesis, pointing out that Indiana’s infrastructure and overall quality of life don’t send welcoming messages to potential residents or businesses. “We’re cheap” isn’t exactly an enthusiastic endorsement. Add to our other visible deficits the voices of far too many of our elected officials; Banks isn’t the only embarrassment working overtime to appeal to the under-educated and overwrought GOP base.

Indiana’s Republicans have long since abandoned the statesmanship of Dick Lugar and Bill Hudnut. Instead, they are emulating the bigoted idiocies of Margery Taylor Green, Paul Gosar and their ilk.

As Briggs points out, Indiana needs big, high-paying employers–and those employers need workers who are unlikely to agree with Jim Banks, et al, on social issues. We aren’t Florida, “where oceans and warm weather in January have a way of making you forget about politics.”

These days, businesses will think twice about Florida–ocean or not–let alone Indiana.


  1. Currently in Indiana, we have a dimwit blonde office candidate on TV daily shrieking about how she is all in for Trump and voter suppression and on and on. The level of stupid in Indiana is stunning. I can understand why young college grads pack up the U-Haul and move on after graduation. Stupid is exhausting to be around day after day.

  2. It is a race to the bottom, and Indiana is pulling ahead, right behind Texas, Oklahoma, and Florida.
    The corrupt “world’s worst legislature” continues to make legislation that keeps Hoosiers poor, sick, and ignorant, led by the propaganda machine of Fox “News”.
    Indiana has the most polluted water in all 50 states, has an education system that is an embarrassment, and consistently ranks in the bottom of most indexes relating to quality of life.
    And Hoosier voters keep electing the same clown show into office.
    It will take time and effort to turn this ship around, and I am not optimistic that we can do it any time soon. Still, hope persists.

  3. Now if we could just get one elected Dem official besides Elizabeth Warren to go after the big Wall St. banks.

    Populist rage movements always require an attack on big business and doing it on the basis of hot-button culture-war tactics is easy and inexpensive. Jim BanQs doesn’t have to worry about offending Ely Lilly because he’d already lost their support for his vote against preserving democracy. But he also knows that THEY know that he will not do a THING to hurt the oligopoly that runs the pharma industry nor upset the legal and regulatory machinery that generate oceans of revenues and profits and drive up Americans’ outsized healthcare costs.

    Lilly’s CEO doesn’t have to worry about Dems doing any harm to his company’s interests either. That fact is a big part of what fueled the political shit-storm that fueled the political fortune of the former guy as well as those of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Madison Cawthorn, Paul Gosar and other deplorables.

    And Dems wonder why their polls reflect so much “meh”.

  4. I have not seen Indiana Farm Bureau, Inc back away support of Banks and others. IFB, Inc still supports the Big Lie, I guess. Such a good business to be so clueless.
    On another issue, as the seas rise Florida’s rich will abandon that state like rats from a sinking ship.

  5. It all boils down to a high quality public education system. You get what you pay for. Shortridge would be the best example in history of the disintegration of education.

  6. The previous posters have all touched on the main points. I’d like to add that what you see within the oligarchy is a split between the privately-run authoritarian types and those who trade publicly on Wall Street.

    Remember, Koch is a private corporation – not a publicly-funded and controlled entity. Koch and the privately-run entities all see the government as the problem, and they see the Democratic Party as completely controlled by the “established” companies. Disney isn’t just a theme park. They own media entities and produce films with messaging.

    If you look at what is happening at Twitter, you’ll understand the rift within the oligarchy structure. The founder and former CEO of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, has applauded Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter and taking the company private or off the Wall Street exchange where it was controlled by the “advertising model” and government.

    The government uses Google, Apple, Facebook, and Twitter to do its censoring for it. Now, the government will not have control over Twitter, so we’ll learn much by paying attention to what happens over the control of the messaging. Especially with the war propaganda in Ukraine.

  7. Is DeSantis trying to trump Trump’s ass…oops, ace…within the GOP? Will it work with these two fools victimizing Florida residents and carry it beyond their state lines? Can Trump be Primaried by DeSantis by spreading Dictatorship in different areas than Trump has hold of at state level? And I thought Gov. Jeb Bush was the most foolish and dangerous Republican politician in the state of Florida when I lived there.

    My money is on Mickey and Goofy!

  8. In a fascist government, any opposition is ruthlessly suppressed. In a government that still has the appearance of democracy (Hungary), they employ what is called “soft fascism”. They investigate opponents, they pass laws that target specific companies, etc. They don’t get shut down, but they do find it is hard to do business.

    The Republicans blowing up right to free speech and are starting to take plays from Victor Orban, and deploying soft fascism.

    No one should be surprised that main driving force behind the Republicans, CPAC, is not eve going to be hosted in the US. It is going to be hosted in Budapest this month.

  9. I can’t decide what I feel more strongly – disgust with GOP con men like Jim banks, or schadenfreude with the corporations that supported the GOP for their bottom lines but now find their feeding hands bitten.

  10. How do you spell Orban? DeSantis. I lived and voted in Florida from 1998 up until two years ago when due to DeSantis I moved back here to Indiana. (Frying pan into the fire?) At least the dictatorship in the Hoosier state is legislative, unlike Florida. I liked my house on the lake, the sunshine, my neighbors, my membership in the Collier County Democratic Club, the putt-putt golf outings etc., but I refuse to live in a dictatorship. So here I am and my house on the lake is up for sale, and unfortunately, other sunshine states down south are peopled by the hard right as well, prompting me as a prospective ex pat to look at Costa Rica, Canada, Panama, Portugal, Italy, and Salonica, Greece, as landing spots. At my advanced age, of course, fate may intervene and relieve me of this responsibility. Whatever, I didn’t spend two and a half years in WW II trying to destroy fascism to come back here and voluntarily live in a fascist state – or country.

    I thus have more than a passing interest in this fall’s election in that the result may once more determine my place of residence. Others may have differing rationales for leaving their now soiled political nests, but the foregoing is mine.

  11. Our Republican controlled legislature has been very successful at making Indiana an unfriendly place for high wage employers to move to. In addition, they have worked hard at making this state a very unfriendly place for current residents to stay. Personally, I have contemplated relocating to a friendlier state that also has much better economic opportunities.

    The greedy Republican legislature wasn’t satisfied enough with our state already being one of the most gerrymandered in the country so they decided to gerrymander the districts even more in order to make it basically impossible for a Democrat candidate to win an election to any office unless they happen to live in a very safe area in one of the larger cities. They even went out of their way to gerrymander a part of Fort Wayne that had been solidly Democrat for a long time.

    Is anyone else sick and tired of hearing the tired old GOP claim of demanding a smaller government with less regulation that stays out of the decisions of private businesses and personal lives? They don’t hesitate to push for legislation to control our personal lives and/or private business practices. They magically don’t consider their ideas to represent the big government overstepping its bounds that they constantly rail against.

  12. Maybe some of you already know this interesting info I just came across….Tucker Carlson’s father has been a lobbyist for Victor Orban for many years.

    The firm’s name is Policy Impact Strategic Communications.

  13. Me thinks Banks doth protest too much. On 4/28, Judd Legum, Tesnim Zekeria, and Rebecca Crosby (of Popular Information) reported that Eli Lilly has, so far donated $40,000 to the RSLC in 2022.

  14. Nancy; what Steve Goldsmith meant by “smaller government” was to privatize/outsource work; when he published his lower staff numbers and lower budget amounts he only included City employees, NOT what was being spent on privatizing/outsourcing city work. I’m sure this is the standard with the Republican party. Goldsmith also placed Mayor’s Office workers in other departments, paid them out of that department’s budges making his Mayor’s office staff and budget appear to be much lower than Mayor Bill Hudnut’s.

  15. JoAnn, you just reinforced the opinion of many people that Rs can win only by lying, cheating and stealing.

  16. Well, it seems that every five minutes there is another ad for a “true conservative”, “proud of their Christian values”, “for the rule of law (Trade Mark pending)”, proto-autocrat here in Indiana.

    The question is – will the majority of the people ever rebel? Will the Democrats keep discussing Marquis of Queensbury Rule while the Trumpsters bring on the gun fight?

    “Hey voter! A miscarriage can be devastating, but now it will bring a criminal investigation, courtesy of the the GOP” – “A thirteen year old raped by her stepfather? The state will guarantee that she carries that child to term and keeps reliving the experience, courtesy of the GOP” – “Happy that you can finally marry the one you love? That right may soon be overturned, courtesy of the GOP” – “Like your social security? Under the DeSantis doctrine it will be reviewed and probably privatized so that rich bankers grab a chunk of your retirement, courtesy of the GOP” – “Hate the high gas prices? Don’t worry, the GOP and DeSantis will keep you warm by burning math books, just like the Chinese Communists” [or we could add the Nazis]

    The Democrats would never run those ads – it’s a shame

    Sorry for the rant – this old curmudgeon has a head cold and foolishly turned on the news tonight – double whammy

  17. I’ve said this before. I was at a legal seminar shortly after Indiana’s RFRA passed. All of the speakers, including one from the ACLU, agreed that Indiana’s RFRA didn’t allow discrimination against people who are LGBTQ. Rather, the only thing that mattered was whether there was a civil rights law against sexual orientation discrimination…which Indiana did not have, although some municipalities do. They agreed that Indiana’s RFRA didn’t override those municipal civil rights ordinances, nor would it override a civil rights law protecting sexual orientation should the legislature ever pass one. They also agreed that “The Fix” didn’t really fix anything…it was merely a statement that reiterated the holding of ever court that’s ever considered the issue, namely that an RFRA would not override a civil rights law. The claims about Indiana’s RFRA are just not accurate.

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