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Exxon, Disney, Pfizer ‘Lobby for Climate Disaster’: Krugman

A bid by America’s wealthiest companies to avoid higher taxes by opposing President Biden’s US$3.5-trillion investment plan is like lobbying for climate disaster, says renowned economist Paul Krugman.

“It’s hard to think of anything more irresponsible than torpedoing efforts to avoid a civilization-threatening crisis because you want to hold down your tax bill,” Krugman writes, in an opinion article for The New York Times.

Several corporations, including the ExxonMobil, Walt Disney Company, and Pfizer, are spearheading a major lobbying effort against Biden’s proposal, which Krugman describes as “a plan that may well be our last chance to take serious action against global warming before it becomes catastrophic.” In early summer, an investigative reporter at Unearthed caught Exxon lobbyist Keith McCoy bragging about his “aggressive” attack on the plan.

The investment package is an ambitious attempt by Biden and congressional Democrats to address the climate crisis. But with the rapid advance of climate change and the looming possibility of Republican control of one or both houses of Congress, time is running out to pass the bill, Krugman says. 

Despite the urgency, after Democrats proposed to offset the bill’s sizeable price tag by increasing corporate profit taxes, American businesses responded with ire. And because they hold only a slim margin in the House and face a fraught legislative process in a tied Senate, the Democrats are already on the back foot to pass the bill. 

While Krugman doesn’t see much chance of garnering support from Republicans—he fears they are “completely unreachable at this point”—he does think corporations could be swayed by public pressure if those involved in the lobbying effort are duly “named and shamed.”

“Remember, this isn’t an ordinary policy dispute, which can be revisited another day,” Krugman warns. “This is zero hour, and those who don’t do the right thing now won’t get a second chance.”