Georgia May Strip Delta Tax Break Over Its NRA Break

I don't see how the state legislature making tax decisions on the basis of the public position an company takes is legal under the 14th Amendment. 

Delta Airlines, which over the weekend was one of many major corporations severing its ties with the NRA (and this case, a branded credit card) after an online boycott movement, is now facing a backlash from the legislature of its home state.

AJC (“Delta’s tax break may not take flight after Georgia Senate blocks it“):

The Georgia Senate’s leaders vowed to block a lucrative tax break bill on Monday that would benefit Delta Air Lines after the Atlanta-based company severed ties with the National Rifle Association.

Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he would not support tax legislation that helped the airline “unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with the NRA.” He echoed a growing number of conservatives who opposed the measure over the weekend.

It came after Delta desperately sought to find neutral ground in a gun debate that has very little, trying to soothe concerns among conservative lawmakers infuriated by the company’s decision to end discounted rates for NRA members in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida high school.

That move forced Gov. Nathan Deal and other supporters of the $50 million jet fuel sales tax exemption to shift to the defensive, and prompted a growing number of Republicans to try to strip the provision out of a broader tax-cut bill that has already passed the state House.

A related report (“Georgia Senate vows to ground Delta tax break after NRA decision“) adds:

Delta officials tried to stem the GOP revolt in a statement that circulated around the statehouse on Monday saying the company is a supporter of the Second Amendment with a “neutral” stance on a gun debate that sharpened this month after the mass shooting at a Florida high school.

It also noted a past decision to withdraw its sponsorship of a theater that depicted the assassination of President Donald Trump as evidence it has also rejected left-leaning groups.

But the company’s assertion that it wanted to stay out of a “politically and emotionally charged issue” prompted snickering from some conservatives who noted the airline has a history of trying to influence state policies.

“We need to see what Delta can offer us because they took a big misstep here,” said state Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. “And I hope they can find some way to rectify the situation.”

This seems like a cut off your nose to spite your face situation:

The measure’s tailspin was a blow to Gov. Nathan Deal and other supporters of the tax break, who say it’s needed to help keep Atlanta competitive with other airline hubs that do not charge air carriers sales taxes for fuel purchases.

The governor pushed to include the tax break in a broader measure that reduces the state’s income tax rate, and that package passed the House last week by a hefty margin. He met with Senate Republicans early Monday to try to ease their concerns, but by then the outcry had reached full pitch.

As noted over the weekend, I’m extremely uncomfortable with the mob mentality that is leading companies to crack down on an advocacy organization engaging in free speech. But this, of course, is much worse. Indeed, I don’t see how the state legislature making tax decisions on the basis of the public position an company takes is legal under the 14th Amendment.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Quick Takes, US Politics,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Cheryl Rofer says:

    We also have freedom of association in this country. If we want not to patronize a company that has abhorrent policies, we’re free to do that. Humans do tend toward groupthink, but this is hardly the worst of that. We’ve got groupthink on the NRA side, too.

    The First Amendment applies to government actions, so whatever it is that the Georgia senate is doing may well be against that. But I’m not clear on this “tax break” thing. Is Delta being given a privilege over and above what other companies have in Georgia? That’s probably poor public policy. But conditioning it on what Delta says or doesn’t say is probably illegal.

    So yeah. Give perks to an organization promoting murder of children, and we won’t patronize you. That’s part of free enterprise too.

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  2. TM01 says:

    Shorter: all bills must always be passed.

    14th amendment? Are you kidding?

    If this were an existing law and the governor was refusing to implement it over a political position you may have a point?

    But saying that they must VOTE FOR A BILL because they disagree with a company’s position? You’re not serious. Can’t be.

    These guy can NOT vote for this for ANY reason at all. You can’t force someone to vote for a bill.

    I’m opposed to these kind of breaks in general. If taxes are bad, cut them for everyone.

    Illinois is full of special tax breaks for specific companies. Do you really think there was no back scratching involved in all of those?

    And on a side note, it is funny however, tho not in a ha-ha way, to see all the Leftists coming out of the woodwork DEMANDING corporate welfare.

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  3. TM01 says:

    Does this mean that every Republican must vote to fund Planned Parenthood even if they oppose abortion?

    That’s a tax/funding position based on a company’s practices.

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  4. TM01 says:

    Does this mean that Republicans must all vote for any bill funding planned Parenthood now?

    Opposing that is a tax/funding position based upon a company’s practices.

  5. KM says:

    @TM01:

    OMG grow up – it’s a freaking discount and not even a substantial one. Talk about snowflake behavior: the NRA has to pay full price now like dozens of other political groups and they’re screaming discrimination.

    The NRA is harming themselves with their frankly heartless behavior right now. If they’d just shut up for 5 seconds and stop attacking the kids, you wouldn’t be seeing this – after all, it’s never happened before with all the previous shootings. What’s different about this one is they are actively trying to demonize the survivors for daring to challenge their cash cow and businesses don’t want to be associated with groups that bully traumatized kids.

    @James:

    As noted over the weekend, I’m extremely uncomfortable with the mob mentality that is leading companies to crack down on an advocacy organization engaging in free speech.

    The only people burning bridges are the NRA. As I said above, this didn’t happen after previous shootings – this is happening because the NRA is actively promoting slander against minors and basically talking sh^t about traumatized kids before all the bodies were in the ground. If they’d been a little more respectful instead of, oh you know accusing victims of being crisis actors and eating Tide pods, maybe the public wouldn’t have turned on them.

    The NRA can do it’s theoretical gun of supporting gun rights without being asshats. Instead, they are in full attack mode and businesses can see the writing on the wall. They don’t want to be in the room when this goes sour.

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  6. bookdragon says:

    @TM01: What I’ve seen from actual leftists in GA is laughter: they had been opposing the tax break because it was cutting revenue and expected to wind up hurting public school funding.

    Leftied: “Yeah, governor, go ahead and squash your stupid tax cut that we thought was harmful anyway. That’ll show us!”

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  7. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    When California announced that they would blackball any company that bid on the border wall from any state contracts, a lot of us said that this wouldn’t end well.

    I didn’t see this particular development, but I find myself nodding that Kurt Schlichter was right:

    You cannot expect to change the status quo for yourself and then expect those you victimize not to play by the new rules you have created. You cannot expect to be able to discard the rule of law in favor of the rule of force and have those you target not respond in kind.

    If your side is going to use the power of the state to punish those with whom they disagree with politically, then suck it up when the other side does the same damned thing. You opened this can of worms.

    And it was hardly unique. You wrote a whole bunch of new rules redefining what is acceptable in political discourse. Well, you really aren’t going to like it when the other side starts playing by those same rules.

  8. al-Ameda says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    If your side is going to use the power of the state to punish those with whom they disagree with politically, then suck it up when the other side does the same damned thing. You opened this can of worms.

    What’s this ‘your side’ started this, bullsh**?

    This kind of thing goes on periodically all the time. Conservative groups urge boycotts of entertainers who are not ‘correct enough’ by their standards (Dixie Chicks etc). Liberals do this over states that refuse to recognize equal rights for all citizens, etc. It’s a time honored tactic. You’re right that sometimes there are unintended consequences, but that’s always the case.

    Yes, I’m pleased that Delta backed out of giving preference to NRA travelers. And, perhaps with Georgia threatening to rescind tax credits and tax abatements Delta will end up moving to another state. We’ll see.

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  9. Bob The Arqubusier says:

    @al-Ameda: What part of “using government power” did you miss? Here, I’ll repeat it.

    The STATE of California announced that any company that bid on building the border wall would be banned from any state contracts. And I don’t recall anyone on the left saying one word against it. I certainly didn’t see any discussion of it here (but I could be mistaken).

    That opened the floodgates. If one side is going to start using governmental power to punish companies for the apparent political consequences of their business decisions, then the other side is going to start doing it, too.

    And it’s probably escaped your notice (conveniently), but Republicans control more states than the Democrats…

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @Bob The Arqubusier:

    And it’s probably escaped your notice (conveniently), but Republicans control more states than the Democrats…

    And it probably escaped your notice (conveniently) that that Trump, despite Republican control of over 30 states, got 2.9M votes less than the Democratic Party candidate.

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