Georgia's Lt. Gov. carried out his threat to kill a jet fuel tax exemption for Delta valued at $40 million. Delta CEO responded, "Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale."
March 3, 2018

Georgia Republicans made good on threats by Lt. Gov. Cagle to punish Delta Air Lines for cutting ties with the National Rifle Association (NRA), they blocked more than $38 million in tax breaks for the airline.

In a statement sent to employees Friday the CEO said,

"While Delta’s intent was to remain neutral, some elected officials in Georgia tied our decision to a pending jet fuel tax exemption, threatening to eliminate it unless we reversed course. Our decision was not made for economic gain and our values are not for sale. We are in the process of a review to end group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature."

Further research by Delta found that only 13 people ever bought tickets with Delta's NRA discount. (It was discounted airfare to NRA conventions.) that translates into each discount costing the airline about $3 million in tax breaks.

People questioned the legality of this move, Democrat Stacy Evans asked the Attorney General to investigate this.

If it is legal or not will be decided eventually. Right now I want to point out the power of corporate involvement, the use of economic levers, what responses to anticipate from the NRA and encourage multiple other methods to fight the slaughter lobby.

Last week I wrote about how the supporters of the NRA will respond to corporations deciding to not associate with the NRA I wrote.

The NRA will respond to corporations withdrawing support, probably by threatening the companies that have left, and the ones who are standing with them.

Some NRA members might be smart and try and entice the companies they still have by buying more of their product, but based on my experience, they prefer to punish and intimidate when they don't get their way.

One of the things that I learned when taking on RW radio was that if you do something that threatens or reduces revenue streams, the companies that lose that money will fight back. Hard. They will enlist any allies they can to ensure they don't lose their revenue. What are you most afraid of? They will threaten you with it. Some will play the, "Will no one rid me of this meddlesome priest?"method so that their unhinged supporters can take matters in their own hands and they can pretend to not be involved.

This backlash from the NRA is an opportunity to push harder. The NRA and their supporters like to punch down and threaten people who they believe are "Infringing on their 2nd Amendment rights!" When they do, we need to punch back, metaphorically speaking. It also helps us to have powerful allies.

In this case our current ally is a corporation that just saw its revenue stream reduced. That is going to make them mad. They are mad at the gun lobby and their pre-owned politicians.
I'm glad it's the Lt. Gov. and the Republican politicians up against a powerful corporation. Harnessing the self interest of a profit-seeking corporation against the gun lobby is a good thing. They won't be retaliating the ways we would, but they also have resources so they won't just shut down and have to back down.

The Lt. Gov. and GOP in the house believe they made a smart political move. They believe they pleased their base and their NRA paymasters. Time will tell what the end result will be but I'm going to put my Quatloos on Delta in the long run.

Credit: Andrei Dimofte from Stuttgart, Germany Creative Commons License

Delta has lots ways to push back on the politicians who threw in with the slaughter lobby. Delta doesn't have to threaten to move their hub to exert pressure. Delta is on the side of kids not dying from being shot.That's a good side to be on.The politicians should regret they are on the wrong side of this. What happens to them just might not make the news until the fall.

One of the things to understand about big public corporations is that they often have a message for the institutional investors that is not the same as the one for the public. The big investors often will look the other way on certain actions they don't consider a "material event" as long as there are consistent positive quarterly earnings. However, when it comes to negative perception of the brand, those feelings CAN translate into a material event. If the pain (PR or political) is big enough the institutional investors will approve of actions to protect the brand. There is a reason companies drop even the biggest money making "human asset" if that person is involved in a scandal. A long term association with toxic people, groups and products are bad for the overall bottom line. The corporate PR goal is to stop the negative associations as fast as possible so they don't drag down the brand.

You should also note that the CEO talked about examining "all group discounts for any group of a politically divisive nature" I can tell you what the NRA will do next. They will look for any group that is even slightly considered political on the LEFT and demand that Delta (and other companies) abandon them. Expect it. Prepare for it. Beat them to the punch.

People might say, "It's just business." but as you saw from Cagel's tweet, dissing a trade group that sells death dealing weapons is really dissing conservatives personally. That means the NRA supporters will go after any corporations they think hurt them as well as the people who they think are out to hurt them. The NRA's response will be out of proportion to what happened to the loss of little marketing deals.

National Rifle Association members visit at the 146th NRA annual meetings in Atlanta, Georgia. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty images

Delta Airlines, might have lost 38 million in a tax cut, but they got tremendous good will on behalf of millions of Americans. They also will use this incident of being snubbed by the politicians. I predict that this bonehead move by the GOP in the state will be worth 100's of millions for Delta. The GOP politicians will probably offer huge giveaways in private this fall to make up for their public snub. I hope that the Democratic lawmakers pay attention. (I was going to say the GOP wants to have their gun and eat it too, but I don't think the mixed metaphor works)

Dick's Sporting Goods is another case where a company might take an short economic hit because of stopping AR-15 sales, but longer term they can increase their sales in all the other sporting products they sell.

Which leads me to my final point. The firearms industry and the lawmakers who pass the easy access gun laws haven't paid for the damage they have done. That needs to change.

There are entire categories of actions that can be pursued that use economic leverage against the gun lobby. Asking companies if they want to keep associating with the slaughter lobby is one. (Here is the first list that Think Progress put together of companies that had marketing deals with the NRA. ) Other actions are designed to defund the firearm industry, still others are designed to recoup some of the costs that the public ends up paying. I'll write about these later.)

I encourage people to develop and implement aggressive economic actions against the slaughter lobby. It's time to push ways to ensure that the firearms industry, the slaughter lobby minions in public office and their supporters pay for the damage they do.

In the mean time I called up Delta to thank them, but I think I got the wrong number.

Delta Delta Delta can I help ya help ya help ya? from Michal Spocko on Vimeo.

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