Biden Goes Global

Here’s What You Need to Know

It is the grand tradition of presidents who lose control of Congress to lean into foreign policy matters in which they can act with fewer legislative constraints. President Joe Biden wasted no time following this tradition, heading around the world before the votes were fully counted. His itinerary provided a glimpse into where his administration will focus abroad, spanning the 27th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27) in Egypt, G-20 Summit in Indonesia, and ASEAN Summit in Cambodia, the last of which included a high-profile meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

While The White House’s recently released National Security Strategy “leaves more questions than answers about the White House’s approach to global crises,” in this era of heightened geopolitics, public affairs professionals cannot wait to see how Biden tackles foreign policy in the next two years. Biden will be under pressure from a GOP-controlled House regarding assistance to Ukraine and U.S.-China relations, but countless other international debates garnering less attention will impact a wide range of industries. Here is what public affairs professionals need to know as they prepare for Biden going global.

From Climate to Covid, Biden Can Use the Multilateral Stage to Advance His Agenda

Delivering Climate Aid to Developing Countries. At COP27 last month, Biden renewed his pledge of $11 billion to assist developing countries in the energy transition, even after these funds were left out of the Inflation Reduction Act this summer. A Republican-led House is unlikely to provide any funding, but Administration officials hope to leverage federal development agencies like the Export-Import Bank and the International Development Finance Corporation and a carbon credit system U.S. climate envoy John Kerry unveiled at COP27 to circumvent Congressional opposition.

Negotiating the WHO Pandemic Accords. Biden recently appointed Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto, who served as President Obama’s envoy to U.N. agencies in Geneva, to represent the U.S. in negotiations of the WHO’s proposed Pandemic Treaty. The accord – which the WHO is looking to have finalized by May 2024 – seeks to more effectively respond to future global health emergencies, and is likely to include several provisions impacting the pharmaceutical industry and other health innovation, as it could include intellectual property waivers, mechanisms to transfer technologies, and disclosure requirements in public procurement contracts.

Pressuring Countries to Enact a Global Minimum Tax. Having secured a 15% corporate minimum tax on many large firms in the Inflation Reduction Act, expect Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to pressure other nations to keep their commitment to enacting their own minimum tax on multinational corporations – an early Administration ‘win’ on the global stage.

Great Wall of Congress May Force Biden to Stay Tough on China with a Little Help from Some Friends

Warming up to Xi, but not recoupling. Biden’s G20 meeting with Xi highlighted his desire “to find ways to work together on urgent global issues,” but the President has shown little sign of slowing efforts to disentangle critical American industries from Chinese supply chains. His administration recently announced new export control measures restricting China’s access to chips and chip-manufacturing equipment, and the Commerce Department will soon release preliminary finding in a prominent Chinese solar panel dumping case that could spur tariffs on imports when the President’s two-year moratorium ends.

Transforming Trump’s Tariffs into Biden’s Tariffs. The Biden Administration has so far maintained the Section 301 Tariffs that levied duties of up to 25% on hundreds of Chinese imports for national security reasons. However, the statutorily required four-year review of these duties, as well as ongoing legal actions and the December 31 expiration of several product exclusions, gives the Administration the opportunity  to reassess which products should remain protected. The comment period for the four-year review is open until January 17. With strong pressure from Biden’s base to maintain protectionist policies and both parties keeping the heat on China, expect firms to increase their lobbying efforts as decision time approaches.

Coupling With Taiwan. This month, the U.S. began talks with Taiwan aimed at strengthening trade and economic ties, with hopes for a pact as soon as next year. China has condemned the trade initiative,  which would be a boon to the U.S. agriculture and technology sectors, as Taiwan is the sixth-largest export market for U.S. food and agricultural products and the number one manufacturer and exporter of semiconductor chips in the world. The pact has the potential to ease the ongoing chip shortage.

Strengthening Indo-Pacific Ties. In the wake of the historic and encompassing Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade agreement between the ten ASEAN countries and their six regional trading partners, including China, the Biden Administration will need to consider how it approaches trade liberalization in the Indo-Pacific. The recent Indo-Pacific Economic Framework may be a start, but it is far from a full-fledged free trade deal and India, a major player in the region, hasn’t signed on to its trade pillar, despite a recent visit by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen. Biden has also been pushing for a digital trade agreement in the Indo-Pacific. Such an agreement would signal the U.S.’s commitment to strengthening ties in the region, especially economically, with an industry that is of strategic interest and commercial value.

Balancing Climate and Energy Security in European Relations

Boosting LNG Shipments to Europe…Or Retracting? Biden is trying to thread the needle between assuaging European allies who seek more LNG imports to supplant their reliance on Russian natural gas and the environmental justice advocates in his political base who disapprove of additional fossil fuel infrastructure. Biden has pledged to expand LNG exports to the EU to 50 billion cubic meters by 2030, though members of Congress from his own party are objecting, and some European officials are becoming perturbed by American “profiteering.”

Carbon Border Tax and Cleantech Subsidies Could End Biden’s Transatlantic Climate Camaraderie. Biden came into office hopeful for a Transatlantic alliance in climate policy, but it could become a climate clash as the EU enters the final stages of adopting a tax on carbon-intensive imports from countries – including the U.S. – that do not meet their imposed carbon emissions standards, starting in 2026. The tax will impact U.S. manufacturers of aluminum, steel, electricity, cement, and fertilizers that export to the EU. Here at home, Biden has indicated support for a carbon border tax of our own, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced legislation to do so in June. Meanwhile, European officials are becoming increasingly incensed by the domestic cleantech manufacturing subsidies and incentives embedded in Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act.

As Latin America Goes Left, Will Biden Go Along?

Navigating a Tricky Relationship with Mexico. Even if the border crisis headlines the bilateral relationship with Mexico, the country is also the United States’ third largest trading partner. Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) has rocked the USMCA boat with some of his recent protectionist moves, including talk of nationalizing energy production and restricting GMO corn. While possibility of an all-out trade war seems unlikely, the Administration will have to choose how hard to push back against potential violations of the USMCA, and whether to prosecute potential treaty violations through relatively untested official channels, or keep things unofficial.

Freeing Hydrocarbons Even If the People Aren’t Free. The Biden Administration recently allowed Chevron to resume operations in Maduro-controlled Venezuela even as Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) claims the Administration tried to oppose an Inter-American Development Bank loan supporting Guyana’s development of its energy infrastructure. As Congress shifts hands, expect more scrutiny of how Biden approaches energy production in the region.

Ensuring Access to Present and Future Resources. Newly elected leftist governments mean access to natural resources may be less certain: Colombia’s Petro seeks to leave oil behind; Peru’s Castillo has pushed to increase taxes on mining companies; Brazil’s Lula promised, in contrast to his opponent, to keep Brazil’s state oil company public; and Chile’s Boric contemplated a public lithium company. Indeed, Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile are discussing a “Lithium OPEC.” The Biden Administration has signaled its commitment to free enterprise in the region, but how willing it is to push back on these policy shifts is unclear, and ensuring access to these resources could conflict with Biden’s climate agenda in the region. While Biden has unveiled a framework for regional economic cooperation similar to its Indo-Pacific proposal, his administration has yet to demonstrate real enthusiasm for new or strengthened trade agreements in either region.

Biden’s Middle East Dilemmas

Pressuring Saudi Arabia on Oil Supply. After Saudi Arabia announced its support for OPEC’s cuts in oil production by two million barrels per day despite Biden’s attempt at mending ties with the de facto Saudi ruler, Biden declared there would be consequences. Potential repercussions could include military support reductions, arms sales cancellations, and enacting the “NOPEC” bill, which would classify OPEC as an illegal cartel and subject its members to U.S. antitrust enforcement. With mixed signals on whether OPEC will increase production soon, expect this relationship to remain as volatile as oil prices.

Reengaging In Nuclear Talks with Iran. With the U.S. condemning Iran’s brutal attacks on human rights protestors, Biden faces a challenging new dilemma: how can he continue his efforts to revive the Obama-era nuclear deal amidst some of the most widespread protests against the regime’s brutality in ten years? There are indications he has put the deal on the shelf for now, but a renewed deal was a key campaign pledge eagerly sought by many of his advisers.

Responding To Netanyahu’s Return. With Benjamin Netanyahu returning as Prime Minister of Israel, Biden will be working with a new (again) leader of the U.S.’s most important Middle East ally. The relationship between Biden and Netanyahu is decades-old and fraught with disagreements, including over the aforementioned 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, the necessity for a two-state solution, and the status of Israeli’s disputed territories. Now, as Netanyahu works to form a government, Biden’s Justice Department has launched “a rare, if not unprecedented” probe into a Palestinian-American journalist’s death, despite an already concluded inquiry by the State Department that found no intentional wrongdoing. Biden and Bibi are also likely to disagree over the value of the Abraham Accords, which the latter negotiated and views as the key to regional security. Yet the Biden Administration has displayed skepticism if not hostility to the Accords and their value in the region, even as they open trade and economic development between key countries in the region.

Critical Industries Have a Lot at Stake

Facing a divided Congress, President Biden will go his own way a lot more in the next two years, wielding the “phone and pen” of executive action on domestic policy and spending more time on foreign policy matters in which he has more autonomy to act. To advance and protect their organizations’ business and policy objectives, public affairs professionals should be prepared for the impact that Biden’s actions abroad may have for their industry, and how different interests and stakeholders can shape and influence those actions.

What Josh Hawley Gets Right

Here’s What You Need to Know

Washington Republicanism lost big Tuesday night,” was Sen. Josh Hawley’s (R-MO) blunt assessment of last Tuesday’s election results. At first blush, it seems out of step with most assessments but digging deeper into which candidates won on what campaign messages, Hawley may be more right than many in Washington would like. In fact, it was a pretty good night for candidates at the extremes – as long as they were running in the right places.

Across the country, our analysts found that 88 of the 129 statewide races that can have significant impact on businesses and industries (U.S. Senate, Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer) featured either or both a populist or progressive expressing skepticism if not outright hostility towards business. A populist or progressive has won or is leading in 69 of those races — more than three-quarters of races on which one or both appeared on the ballot.

In just 63 days, Congress and all but five state legislatures will begin their work. That means public affairs professionals cannot wait to prepare for what’s to come. Here’s what you need to know about the newly elected officials swept into office by the twin tides of populism and progressivism.

Meet the Faces of the Twin Tides

When the final ballots are counted, public affairs professionals will face redder red states and bluer blue states, straining even further the ability of businesses to achieve policy consensus and certainty. Here’s how this dynamic played out in the campaign.

26 of 35 U.S. Senate races featured populists or progressives, who won or are leading in 18 of those races. A number of those newly elected Republican Senators will attempt to out-Josh Hawley Josh Hawley, while newly elected Democratic Senator John Fetterman may become a model for full-throated progressive candidates. Indeed, Fetterman plans to “crack down on the big, price gouging corporations that are making record profits while jacking up prices for all of us … by prosecuting the executives of these huge corporations,” while Hawley’s new junior colleague from Missouri, Eric Schmitt, made clear in his campaign, “I’ve taken on Big Tech, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Banks, Big Government. I’ve never been afraid of the tough fights.”


  • Sen.-Elect Katie Britt (R-AL)
    Globalists in D.C. have put us last for decades, and I am eager to set them straight and stand up for truly fair trade.”

  • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)
    These corporations … should not look to the Republican Party for support. … Business and good government don’t have to be at odds. But if executive elites think they can force the rest of the country to support their insane policies, they have another thing coming.”

  • Sen.-Elect Eric Schmitt (R-MO)
    “I’ve taken on Big Tech, Big Insurance, Big Pharma, Big Banks, Big Government. I’ve never been afraid of the tough fights. Missourians deserve a strong voice in the Senate who will take on the powerful on behalf of the people…”

  • Sen.-Elect Ted Budd (R-NC)
    Big Tech bias has gone too far in suffocating the voices of conservatives across our country. If these companies want to continue to receive legal protection, they should be forced to play by a fair set of rules in good faith. I’m extremely proud to join Sen. Hawley in this fight.”

  • Sen.-Elect JD Vance (R-OH)
    “If you’re fighting the American nation state, if you’re fighting the values and virtues that make this country great, then the conservative movement should be about nothing if not reducing your power, and if necessary, destroying you.”

  • Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA)
    “With the growing consolidation of corporate power and increasing inequality amid record corporate profits, it’s evident that corporate greed is what’s increasing costs for American families …”

  • Sen. Raphael Warnock* (D-GA)
    Big corporations are raking in record profits while Georgians are forced to pay record prices. The business practices of a few corporations with overwhelming influence on our economy cannot be ignored.”

  • Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
    “The bewildering incongruity between falling oil prices and rising gas prices smacks of price gouging and is deeply damaging to working people. The Senate is going to get answers …”

  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)
    “Rather than investing in their workers, mega-corporations used the windfall from Republicans’ 2017 tax cuts to juice their stock prices and reward their wealthiest investors and their executives through massive stock buybacks.”

  • Sen.-Elect John Fetterman (D-PA)
    “It’s time we crack down on the big, price gouging corporations that are making record profits while jacking up prices for all of us … by prosecuting the executives of these huge corporations …”

*Race will be decided in a runoff election.

16 of 36 Gubernatorial races featured populists or progressives, who won or are leading in 9 of those races. While not a numerous in races for Governor, populist and progressive governors are very prominent in the political discourse. Most notably, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis made clear in his re-election that “In Florida, our policy’s going to be based on the best interest of Florida citizens, not on the musings of woke corporations.” Across the country, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom claimed, “Big oil is ripping people off at the pump … that’s why we need a price gouging penalty to hold them accountable and get these profits into your pockets.” After last Tuesday, they won’t be alone in their competing visions for their states and the country, or the pressures those visions place on companies and industries.


  • Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
    “In Florida, our policy’s going to be based on the best interest of Florida citizens, not on the musings of woke corporations.”

  • Gov. Kevin Stitt (R-OK)
    ESG is kind of rewriting how you invest. Instead of focusing on value for your shareholders, it’s more of a political agenda… It breaks down the free market principles of capitalism that we’re used to in investing and so it’s anti-American.”

  • Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX)
    “Some Wall Street CEOs are divesting from fossil fuel businesses. That’s a two-way street. Texas is passing laws to divest from those woke businesses. We have the 9th largest economy in the world & we will use it to protect energy jobs in Texas.”

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY)
    “I’m the only candidate for Governor of New York who is committed to cracking down on polluters, cutting carbon emissions, and treating climate change like the crisis that it is. Our environmental progress is at stake in November.”

  • Gov.-Elect Josh Shapiro (D-PA)
    Shady corporations are taking advantage of Pennsylvanians. As our economy opens back up, they’re raising costs — and all for their own profits. I’ve taken on the powerful and well-connected my entire career. I’m not stopping now, and I’ll continue that fight as Governor.”

  • Gov.-Elect Katie Hobbs (D-AZ)
    “With reports of price gouging from across the country, Arizona has been unprepared to combat exorbitant prices by unscrupulous retailers. Adding to the pinch that Arizona families are already feeling, gas prices recently hit record highs in June… even as the top 5 oil companies reported raking in $35 billion in record profits.”

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA)
    “Big oil is ripping people off at the pump, and they’re making more in profits off of Californians than in any other state – that’s why we need a price gouging penalty to hold them accountable and get these profits into your pockets.”

  • Gov.-Elect Maura Healey (D-MA)
    “For far too long these, these corporations have tried to use the First Amendment to shield unlawful activity, serious fraud and misrepresentation both to the investor and shareholder, public as well as to consumers, which is what we allege that ExxonMobil did. So we’re gonna continue to fight on.”

  • Gov. Kathy Hochul (D-NY)
    “I’m the only candidate for Governor of New York who is committed to cracking down on polluters, cutting carbon emissions, and treating climate change like the crisis that it is. Our environmental progress is at stake in November.”

  • Gov.-Elect Josh Shapiro (D-PA)
    Shady corporations are taking advantage of Pennsylvanians. As our economy opens back up, they’re raising costs — and all for their own profits. I’ve taken on the powerful and well-connected my entire career. I’m not stopping now, and I’ll continue that fight as Governor.”

24 of 30 Attorney General races featured populists or progressives, who won or are leading in 20 of those races, a worrying trend for an office we’ve noted has “blended legal action with political headlines on a wide range of policy issues.” On the Republican side, Arizona Attorney General candidate Abraham Hamadeh pledged, “As your Attorney General, we will fight back against the insanity of Big Tech, against the ‘woke’ left corporations who boycott states and condemn America but refuse to utter a word against China, and against Washington’s overreach into the daily lives of Arizonans.” On the Democratic side, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison contended, “It’s my job as Attorney General job to help Minnesotans afford their lives in the face of the rising costs of prescription drugs, healthcare, and higher education; declining wages and purchasing power; scams, unscrupulous landlords, and pandemic profiteering; and fraud, deception, and antitrust practices by corporations.”


  • Attorney General Steve Marshall (R-AL)
    Big Tech is not the Ministry of Truth. It should concern us all when platforms that hold such tremendous power and influence over information wield that power in contradiction of — and with undisguised disdain for — the foundational American principles of free speech and freedom of the press.”

  • Attorney General candidate Abraham Hamadeh* (R-AZ)
    “As your Attorney General, we will fight back against the insanity of Big Tech, against the ‘woke’ left corporations who boycott states and condemn America but refuse to utter a word against China, and against Washington’s overreach into the daily lives of Arizonans.”

  • Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R-FL)
    I’m sick and tired of corporations imposing their political will on unsuspecting consumers. As always, I will work with @GovRonDeSantis to ensure Floridians are protected.”

  • Attorney General Ken Paxton (R-TX)
    “The ESG movement is the latest tool that woke corporations are using to push a radical and left-leaning social agenda into every corner of American life. It’s harmful to our state and nation, and it may be illegal as well.”

  • Attorney General-Elect Andrea Campbell (D-MA)
    “As Attorney General … I’ll expose price gougers, protect your tax dollars & fight back against corporations that pollute our communities.”

  • Attorney General Dana Nessel (D-MI)
    “While drug companies profit off of people’s health, they also benefit from a current market in which they control the pricing. Enough is enough.”

  • Attorney General Keith Ellison (D-MN)
    It’s my job as Attorney General job to help Minnesotans afford their lives in the face of the rising costs of prescription drugs, healthcare, and higher education; declining wages and purchasing power; scams, unscrupulous landlords, and pandemic profiteering; and fraud, deception, and antitrust practices by corporations.”

  • Attorney General Letitia James (D-NY)
    “Throughout the pandemic, hardworking New Yorkers have been struggling to make ends meet, but big corporations have been celebrating record breaking profits. It doesn’t add up. My office is prepared to use every tool in our toolbox to crack down on price gouging and pandemic profiteering.”

  • Attorney General Rob Bonta (D-CA)
    “CA is already experiencing the catastrophic effects of climate change. Corporations must pay for their role in the climate crisis.”

  • Attorney General Rob Bonta (D-CA)
    “Plastic bag manufacturers must back up their claims or face enforcement action. As Attorney General, I’m committed to tackling the global #plasticpollution crisis and the corporations behind it.”

  • Attorney General William Tong (D-CT)
    Big Oil ignored science and peddled the use of fossil fuels, dangerously accelerating climate change. CT stands with Rhode Island @AGNeronha in his fight to hold these corporations accountable for their role in our climate crisis.”

  • Attorney General-Elect Anthony Brown (D-MD)
    “Gas prices are rising, but the price of oil is falling. It’s price gouging, plain and simple, and it’s unacceptable. We need to get tougher on bad actors in the oil and gas industry taking advantage of hardworking Americans.”

  • Attorney General-Elect Andrea Campbell (D-MA)
    “As Attorney General … I’ll expose price gougers, protect your tax dollars & fight back against corporations that pollute our communities.”

  • Attorney General Dana Nessel (D-MI)
    “While drug companies profit off of people’s health, they also benefit from a current market in which they control the pricing. Enough is enough.”

  • Attorney General Keith Ellison (D-MN)
    It’s my job as Attorney General job to help Minnesotans afford their lives in the face of the rising costs of prescription drugs, healthcare, and higher education; declining wages and purchasing power; scams, unscrupulous landlords, and pandemic profiteering; and fraud, deception, and antitrust practices by corporations.”

  • Attorney General Letitia James (D-NY)
    “Throughout the pandemic, hardworking New Yorkers have been struggling to make ends meet, but big corporations have been celebrating record breaking profits. It doesn’t add up. My office is prepared to use every tool in our toolbox to crack down on price gouging and pandemic profiteering.”

*Race remains to be called.

22 of 28 Treasurer races featured populists or progressives, and a populist or progressive won or is leading in all 22 of those races, highlighting how this once staid office has become the frontlines in the battle for and against ESG and other divestment measures. Utah Treasurer Marlo Oaks warned, “ESG is about controlling and forcing behaviors. It attempts to do through capital markets what activists and their government allies have been unable to do through democratic processes.” Conversely, Connecticut’s newly elected Treasurer Erick Russell pledged, “I am ready to make our progressive case … using our powerful voice as a key shareholder and investor to advocate for … combating climate change, advancing human and civil rights, promoting corporate diversity, and improving public health and safety through strategic divestment.”


  • Treasurer Kimberly Yee (R-AZ)
    “We have the ability to go to companies that stand for the values that we believe in… ESG policies and woke corporations are moving in a direction that I believe is dangerous.”

  • Treasurer-Elect Mark Lowery (R-AR)
    “First thing I would like to accomplish once in office is to continue … advocacy of investment strategies at all levels of government that disinvest from ‘woke’ investments including through BlackRock Investments.”

  • Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis (R-FL)
    “I was proud to join @GovRonDeSantis to deliver a simple message to the woke fund managers who keep investing in China: we intend to assert our seat at the table. Limiting our exposure to China is not only good for our country, but it’s the prudent thing to do.”

  • Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis (R-FL)
    I believe ESG is un-American because global asset managers are using the woke-standards, to reengineer society, through billion-dollar industries. It’s undemocratic. Moreover, it appears it’s not confined to equities alone. It looks like insurance markets are beginning to write coverage based on ESG criteria. … We need to fight ESG within the insurance markets because it’s another theater of battle.”

  • Treasurer Julie Ellsworth (R-ID)
    [I am] working to stop undemocratic, woke efforts to implement non-financial or subjective criteria for measuring investment options & credit worthiness of legal businesses and individuals.”

  • Treasurer John Murante (R-NE)
    “I took a stand against an attack on conservative free speech and was joined by several other State Treasurers. Conservative voices have a right to be heard and we will fight back against discrimination led by radical left-wing politicians and supported by woke corporations.”

  • Treasurer Robert Sprague (R-OH)
    “As radical ESG-focused investment strategies continue to grab headlines, I want to make one thing clear – Ohio’s Treasury will not fall victim to it… In recent years, we’ve seen the Biden Administration weaponize its regulatory agencies and the finance sector as pawns to push their progressive agendas. Today’s ESG activism prioritizes political ideology over sound financial management.”

  • Treasurer Curtis Loftis (R-SC)
    I will not allow our financial partners to undermine my fiduciary responsibility to maximize investment returns while accepting a prudent level of risk for the benefit of our citizens. It is imperative that we stand up to BlackRock and resist the pressure to simply fall into line with their leftist worldview.”

  • Comptroller Glenn Hegar (R-TX)
    The environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) movement has produced an opaque and perverse system in which some financial companies no longer make decisions in the best interest of their shareholders or their clients, but instead use their financial clout to push a social and political agenda shrouded in secrecy.”

  • Treasurer Marlo Oaks (R-UT)
    ESG is about controlling and forcing behaviors. It attempts to do through capital markets what activists and their government allies have been unable to do through democratic processes.”

  • Treasurer Fiona Ma (D-CA)
    “I recognize that, for too long, capitalistic systems have unfairly and disproportionately rewarded the powerful and wealthy.”

  • Treasurer-Elect Erick Russell (D-CT)
    I am ready to make our progressive case … using our powerful voice as a key shareholder and investor to advocate for … combating climate change, advancing human and civil rights, promoting corporate diversity, and improving public health and safety through strategic divestment.”

  • Treasurer Deb Goldberg (D-MA)
    The pension fund invests billions of dollars in publicly-traded companies, and we want to do all we can to ensure these organizations are following best practices by affirming the science and causes of climate change… It is critical that we be forward thinking in building and implementing a comprehensive ESG framework that will have a positive long-term impact on our changing climate.”

  • Treasurer Zach Conine (D-NV)
    “Today, I directed our team to divest the State of Nevada from any investment in a business that profits from the sale or manufacture of assault-style weapons. No one policy or law will fix this crisis, but we all must do something.”

  • Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli (D-NY)
    “Achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2040 will put the [state pension] Fund in a strong position for the future mapped out in the Paris Agreement. We continue to assess energy sector companies in our portfolio … Those that fail to meet our minimum standards may be removed from our portfolio.

  • Treasurer-Elect James Diossa (D-RI)
    “As Treasurer, I intend to leverage state funding in order to encourage cities and towns to adopt zoning and land use laws that encourage sustainable energy infrastructure. … Ensuring such projects move forward with an eye toward sustainability will pay long term climate change dividends.”

  • Treasurer-Elect Mike Pieciak (D-VT)
    “[Fossil fuel investments are] a complicated issue, right? But I think everybody should be pro-divestment when you think of the financial risks that it’s going to present. So then it just comes down to when and how.”

  • Treasurer Curtis Loftis (R-SC)
    I will not allow our financial partners to undermine my fiduciary responsibility to maximize investment returns while accepting a prudent level of risk for the benefit of our citizens. It is imperative that we stand up to BlackRock and resist the pressure to simply fall into line with their leftist worldview.”

  • Comptroller Glenn Hegar (R-TX)
    The environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) movement has produced an opaque and perverse system in which some financial companies no longer make decisions in the best interest of their shareholders or their clients, but instead use their financial clout to push a social and political agenda shrouded in secrecy.”

  • Treasurer Marlo Oaks (R-UT)
    ESG is about controlling and forcing behaviors. It attempts to do through capital markets what activists and their government allies have been unable to do through democratic processes.”

It’s Time to Act Before It’s Too Late

Companies and industries cannot wait to prepare for the onslaught of scrutiny that is lurking around the corner. With just 63 days until nearly all legislative sessions have begun, next year’s legislative sessions and executive actions will be developed and influenced sooner than you think. Understanding what shaped the 2022 campaigns is the first step. To know what you should do next, check out Delve’s newly released playbook, The Twin Tides Are Here: Your Playbook for What Comes Next, and grab one of the few remaining seats for tomorrow’s webinar on the new business landscape.

Are You Ready for The Wave?

The Wave Is Here

As our CEO Jeff Berkowitz detailed in Campaigns & Elections today, while campaign operatives prepare to catch up on sleep after the election ends, corporate and issues advocacy professionals’ hard work is just beginning – charged with navigating their organizations through the new landscape shaped by the results. Following an election cycle driven by the twin tides of populism and progressivism, that task may prove even more difficult than in the past.

From aggressive congressional investigations to even more frequent executive action, companies will find themselves fighting a two front war in Washington. Those two fronts will extend across the country, as it is likely red states will get redder and blue state bluer after the election, sweeping into office newer, more ideological legislators from each party. Many of these legislators will find themselves in supermajorities and trifectas, both of which are expected to expand after the election. With one-party control growing in many states, these legislators — and an increasing array of down ballot statewide elected officials — will widen the already gaping policy chasm businesses have to straddle between red and blue states.

Fortunately, here at Delve we have a well-honed playbook that sets public affairs operations up for success in the face of such challenges. Here’s what you need to do to navigate what the post-election tides sweep into 2023 with an information advantage.

Your Post-Election Playbook Is Here

Understand Where Your Risk Exists: More fights are about to occur in more jurisdictions on a wider range of issues on which companies and industries will be expected to engage. Yet even the most well-resourced organizations cannot run a 50-state offense and defense. To focus time and resources on where the most important battles are likely to occur, survey the landscape for where meaningful wins can be achieved and where serious political and reputational blows are likely to come. This survey should identify and assess key factors that indicate the likelihood of opportunity or challenges on key issues and interests for your organization, such as ballot initiatives; current and past activity of legislators and regulators; the presence and activity level of national and local activists, competitors, and other stakeholders; past and current lobbying efforts and political activities; and much more. At Delve, we weigh a customized set of risk factors across each jurisdiction to develop a heat map of risk and opportunity that helps public affairs professionals and lobbying teams target with pinpoint precision where to concentrate their resources and engage in the right fights early.

Find The Stakeholders: Friends are best found before the fighting begins, so once you understand where there is risk and opportunity, it is time to assess which stakeholders are likely to (or certainly ought to) engage in the debate, and whether you can work with them, or have to overcome their opposition. The traditional lobbying in “smoke-filled rooms” is long gone, so successful public affairs efforts must consider a range of actors beyond the actual policymakers, such as community organizations, competing businesses, labor unions, academics, and public and private interest groups. Reading the tea leaves of their previous statements and positions, funding sources, any relevant affiliations, and interests illuminates where they may come down in the fight, and together, help create a “web” of stakeholders that informs your strategy to bolster defenses and advance your interests through a winning coalition.

Secure An Information Advantage: Having assessed the landscape and mapped out the stakeholders, it is time to dig deeper into who those policymakers and stakeholders are and what is important to know about them. Whether it means developing key facts proving the value of a policy or discovering false motives of the opposition, an information advantage is an essential part of a winning public affairs playbook. These insights can include funding sources, inferred strategies and observed tactics, coordination with other groups, who influences them, what their motivations are, and how credible they should be considered by others. With more stakeholders engaging in more debates, the field of play is wider than ever before, so sharp, usable information lets you shape the debate with government decision-makers, the press, and public.

Build a System to Avoid Surprises: Even after charting a course and launching a campaign, the foundation it is built on continues to shift. The advocacy landscape moves faster and with greater intensity along with heightened political and reputational risks. By the time critical information reaches the headlines, it is often too late. Going past noisy mass media and social media to decipher what your opponents and key stakeholders are likely to do next is critical to mitigating risks and seizing on opportunities. Analyzing a wide range of primary and secondary sources can indicate changes to the state of play, so build a robust program that analyzes and synthesizes social media, press coverage, legislative action, regulatory filings, meeting schedules, event outcomes, stakeholder newsletters, and a wide range of other sources. It’s not the aggregation of these pieces of information, but rather the analysis of how they fit together that can provide a timely and actionable view of the landscape that keeps you ahead of the curve.

Don’t Wait to Turn Your Playbook into Action

Companies and industries cannot wait for the election results on November 8th to prepare for the coming onslaught of scrutiny and pressure. Next year’s legislative sessions and executive actions will be shaped and influenced sooner than you think. Smart public affairs professionals can leverage this playbook to keep their organizations ahead of the curve before it’s too late. If you need help assessing these risks and identifying which stakeholders are likely to shape next year’s policy debate, feel free to contact us.

The Phone and Pen Are Back

Here’s What You Need to Know

When Congressional Republicans frustrated President Barack Obama’s agenda, he bluntly declared, “I’ve got a pen, and I’ve got a phone,” with which he pledged “to sign executive orders and take … administrative actions that move the ball forward.” With at least one chamber of Congress expected to shift to GOP hands, President Joe Biden will find himself with a similar predicament, and if his first year in office is any indication, he is not waiting to wield his phone and pen in ways that impact a wide range of businesses.

Biden has issued more than 100 executive orders since taking office – including more in his first year than any president since Gerald Ford – and that does not count numerous administrative actions taken by various federal agencies. Come January, with Republicans likely to gain control of the U.S. House and possibly the Senate, that number is all-but-assured to grow exponentially. Here’s what public affairs professionals need to know to anticipate how these actions could impact their interests.

How Biden May Put His Phone and Pen to Work

Declare A Climate Emergency. Even after passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, climate activists and members of Congress are pressuring Biden to issue an emergency declaration on climate change, which would allow the president to (1) halt crude oil exports, (2) limit oil and gas drilling in federal waters, and (3) direct agencies including the Federal Emergency Management Agency to boost renewable-energy sources.

Seize The Means of Energy Production. With gas prices rising, Biden has indicated he may invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) in an effort to boost the U.S.’s oil-refining capacity, a hammer he has already wielded against the energy sector in other ways.

Extend The COVID Emergency. The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) is set to expire on January 11, 2023, after the Administration extended it for the seventh time last week. With Congressional Republicans likely to scrutinize his pandemic response, particularly after Biden declared the pandemic “over,” and without another extension the PHE’s relaxation of many regulations could come to an end even as senior health officials seek additional funding to fight the virus.

Pressure States and Companies on The Culture Wars. Covid is not the only culture clash likely to see executive action. Under pressure from abortion rights activists, Biden could double down on commitments by his Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, including the possibility he could declare a public health emergency on abortion access. Biden could also pressure states through Medicaid and other funding mechanisms to cover abortion access, leaving care providers, insurers, and employers caught between federal and state health officials. Biden may take similar action to ensure access to “gender-affirming care.

Forcing Social Impact on Financial Services Sector. More executives could see their compensation tied to how well their company is doing on environmental, social and governance (ESG) goals – with an emphasis on the environmental – if the Securities & Exchange Commission finalizes its Climate Disclosure Rule. Furthermore, the Department of Labor proposed a rule in October 2021 that could compel ERISA plan fiduciaries to incorporate more ESG investing, and in February issued a request for information seeking input from stakeholders about whether the agency should add climate-risk questions to Form 5500, the form plans are required to submit annually. Plan fiduciaries and other stakeholders may be impacted by the final rules and policy pronouncements that come from these actions.

“Ungigging” The Economy. Biden faces growing pressure from gig economy workers and labor unions to follow through on his 2020 campaign pledge to “Ensure workers in the ‘gig economy’ and beyond receive the legal benefits and protections they deserve.” That pledge could lead to executive action forcing companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash to classify drivers as employees rather than independent contractors.

Return Of the Joint Employer Rule. Biden is also facing demands from unions and labor activists to broaden the legal test for determining when a company jointly employs franchise workers – something the Obama Administration attempted to do before courts stepped in. Biden’s National Labor Relations Board recently proposed a rule to broaden the joint employment relationship to include indirect and unexercised control over the terms and conditions of a job.

Increased Executive Actions Will Leave Businesses Fighting a Two-Front War in Washington

As we noted last month, a Republican takeover of at least one and possibly both chambers of Congress will bring new pressures and scrutiny to companies and industries that populists in the GOP view with increased skepticism. As Republicans launch investigations likely to hit a wide range of industries, President Biden will be counteracting Congressional intransigence with executive action, often leaving it to courts to sort out conflicting policy directions. Public affairs professionals cannot wait to prepare for this new landscape in which they will have to satisfy competing demands from each end of Pennsylvania Avenue. If you need help assessing these risks and which stakeholders are likely to influence them, feel free to contact us.

The Power of The Purse – And Pensions

Here’s What You Need to Know

State financial officers – 36 of whom are independently elected – control more than $4.56 trillion in state-administered pension funds and $1.27 trillion in revenue collected by state treasuries. Now, they are increasingly recognizing those portfolios can be a political force that can greatly impact banks, asset managers, and firms that rely on financial markets.

That’s why, as Delve CEO Jeff Berkowitz last week wrote in American Banker, “In the November midterm elections, the twin tides of progressivism and populism will crash ashore, and financial institutions will need to look further down-ballot than ever before to assess the risks they face from incoming elected officials.”

While political risk analysis often looks at Congress or state legislatures, businesses need to be aware such risks extend beyond oversight and legislation. Traditionally, governors are the main state executives shaping policy debates, but other statewide officeholders responsible for specific government functions advocate for policy changes too. As they do, firms in and out of the financial sector will need to prepare for very real legal and financial consequences.

How Commerce Got Politicized

The multistate tobacco settlement in the late 1990s helped state attorneys general (AG) recognize the power they had to pressure disfavored industries or signal opposition to a president. Not surprisingly, over the past 10 years campaign spending on AG races has more than tripled, fueled by corporate funds flowing into national groups like the Republican Attorneys General Association and Democratic Attorneys General Association.

In recent years, state AGs have blended legal action with political headlines on a wide range of policy issues, from suing energy firms over climate change to seeking to overturn the Affordable Care Act to making it easier for local prosecutors to sue financial services firms to seeking lower drug prices and even curtailing EPA regulatory authority.

AGs are not alone though. The most recent statewide officials to enter the political arena are state treasurers.

Treasurers Join the Fray

Between state government expenditures and investments by more than 300 state-administered pension funds, state treasurers have considerable market power, not to mention their offices’ sway over market regulation. Now they are wielding this power in a wide range of industries and companies – often from competing partisan perspectives.

To Drill or Divest. Last year, 15 state treasurers launched a coalition opposing financial institution’s ESG commitments that could lead to defunding or divesting from fossil fuel-related project. This summer, two of those officials – Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar and West Virginia Treasurer Riley Moore – announced the disqualification of a number of banks and asset managers under recently passed laws prohibiting their states from doing business with “financial institutions that are engaged in a boycott of energy companies.” Last month, a coalition of 14 Democratic treasurers responded, signing a letter objecting to “blacklisting financial firms that don’t agree with their political views.” However, that has not stopped California’s state treasurer is pushing her state’s teachers’ pension fund to divest from fossil fuels, which Maine’s treasurer began last year.

Stand With American Allies. 35 states have passed legislation restricting state public pension fund investments in or other state commerce with companies that endorse or comply with the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. This summer, Arizona Treasurer Kimberly Yee warned investment firm Morningstar its environmental, social and governance ratings subsidiary was violating her state’s anti-BDS law. Last September, Yee was the first of seven state financial officers from both political parties to divest pension funds from Unilever after its subsidiary Ben & Jerry’s announced it would no longer allow sales in Israeli settlements. As the Biden Administration’s pursuit of a renewed Iran nuclear deal roils Middle East security politics, expect growing awareness of how firms engage in the region.

Step Away from American Enemies. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the push for companies to divest did not just come from the private sector and the public. State treasurers moved to divest their pension funds from companies and funds that included Russian interests. If the U.S. and China continue at least selected decoupling, this trend could become very complicated for banks and asset managers.

Social Issues Carry Financial Consequences. In 2019, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot declared his state’s pensions would divest from any and all Alabama-based companies in reaction to that state’s strict abortion law. Now, as companies respond to the Dobbs decision by covering employee abortion travel costs, opposite pressure could come from red states. Similarly, at least four state treasurers — Connecticut, Rhode Island, Nevada, and Massachusetts — have divested or are seeking to divest from investment funds with firearms-related holdings. Expect such actions to expand as the culture wars increasingly play out in state capitals.

Look Before You Leap

The politicization of commerce puts business in a precarious position. States are becoming increasingly polarized in their political and social issue demands on companies, and that makes it more difficult for companies to take either side without facing consequences. Adding to the confusion, while the principles in question can seem straightforward — every vote should count, climate change is real, gun violence should be thwarted — behind these shared principles are often expectations from well-coordinated activists that firms will endorse divisive, partisan solutions.

With state treasurers becoming a growing political force, companies can now face real financial consequences if their business practices and public statements do not comport with the views and objectives of elected officials who hold sway over state finances and investment. To avoid the pitfalls, companies must understand the full range of policymakers and stakeholders before starting their corporate advocacy. They should also be mindful of how they engage in policy and cultural debates, because just as in physics, every political action has an (un)equal and opposite reaction.

Mind the Gap

Here’s What You Need to Know

Nearly 6 in 10 Biden voters and nearly 8 in 10 Trump voters agree that like-minded states (blue and red respectively) ought to secede and form their own separate country. Perhaps no other statistic better underscores “the great divergence” now under way, as red states get redder and blue states get bluer in this November’s election. This domination by one party in state governments mean fewer checks on partisan excesses and strains the country’s ability to form consensus where it can and compromise where it cannot, complicating a broadening range of issues for business.

With fewer representatives in government from the political center, companies will have to navigate a gap in policy direction between red states and blue states that on a growing set of issues has become diametrical opposition. Moderate Democrats who held back the excesses of progressivism and the free market mantra of Republicans that similarly curtailed populist impulses have both ebbed in recent election cycles, and the expectations for November suggest they will continue to fade. Here is what firms need to know as they prepare to navigate this widening divergence between the states.

The Midterms Will Make Red States Redder and Blue States Bluer

When state legislatures are sworn in next year, majority parties are likely to grow even more dominant in more than two-thirds of state legislative chambers. Currently, 24 states have legislatures featuring a “supermajority” by one party and that number is likely to grow after this November. Furthermore, 37 state governments today feature a “trifecta” – where one party controls the governor’s office and both chambers of the state legislature. Only thirteen states have a government divided between the two parties. The gap between trifecta and divided state governments may expand after November too.

While social and cultural clashes might seem like the obvious place businesses will get pulled between red and blue states, the pressures will not stop there. Companies can expect competing demands on a range of business and economic issues from both sides of the chasm:

As this gap in policy direction between red states and blue states expands, stakeholders and policymakers on both sides will crank up the heat on firms to take a stand even as they remain divided over what that stand should be. On a growing range of issues, companies will face immense pressure to conform and accept either the red or blue state version of reality.

In 2023, One in Four State Legislators Will Be New – And More Partisan – Including Key Chamber Leaders

Complicating businesses’ ability to navigate state legislatures and address competing pressures from diverging states will be the number of new members populating those chambers, many of whom will be more ideological than their predecessors. One in four state legislators sworn in next year will be freshmen, thanks to the highest level of open seats in five election cycles. This shift means businesses will start out the year with a bigger-than-usual task of acquainting themselves and building relationships with new policymakers who may be less familiar with issues impacting various industries and firms than their more seasoned predecessors.

Among these open seats are legislative leaders such as Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, Rhode Island Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey, and Wisconsin Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke. While the latter two decided to retire rather than seek re-election in the face of primary challenges, Bowers was one of numerous Republican incumbents to lose in primaries this cycle. Thus far, Republican incumbents have been losing state legislative seats at over twice the rate of the past two election cycles, generally to more populist challengers. While not to as dramatic an extent, Democratic incumbents are losing to more progressive challengers this cycle as well. More ideological state legislators mean fewer representatives focused on economic growth and business-friendly reforms rather than the latest front in the culture war.

These Dynamics Leave Businesses Caught in A Chasm with Fewer Allies

This increasing divergence between the states places businesses in a precarious position as they face mounting pressure from stakeholders on both sides of America’s cultural and political chasm. When businesses do take a stand — or no stand — they are bound to alienate a swath of policymakers and other stakeholders on various sides on the issue. Firms must understand that while they may have earned and maintained a great deal of trust, it will take a lot to ensure that trust withstands the growing wave of politicization.

As competing pressures from newer, more partisan faces in state legislatures arise, businesses will have to adjust how they approach their advocacy. They cannot wait for the election results to begin assessing risks and challenges or understanding what range of stakeholders and policymakers will shape those outcomes.

The Hill Op-Ed: There’s A Wave Coming, But It’s Not the One You Think

In his latest column for The Hill, Delve CEO Jeff Berkowitz explains that businesses have much more at stake this fall than which party controls Congress. From investigations into the Biden Administration that may drag firms into them, to pragmatic lawmakers disappearing as the parties become more dominated by less experienced and more ideological officeholders, to a widening gap in policy direction between states, a rising tide of politicization of commerce is presenting firms with many challenges. To see what firms need to know as they seek to navigate and overcome them, read the excerpt below, then head to TheHill.com to read the full article. 

Most in Washington are debating whether there will be a red wave this November and, if so, how large it might be. Yet, whether it turns out to be a wave or a ripple for Republicans, the twin tides of progressivism and populism are bringing a much larger wave that will crash down on businesses.

From The White House to statehouses, skepticism, scrutiny and pressure will rise as a new wave of politicians from both parties is elected in November for whom criticizing business has proven to be a resonant line of attack on the campaign trail and in office. This means businesses have more at stake this fall than just which party controls Congress and state legislatures.

The Lesson of 2018

Here’s What You Need To Know

“There is a massive backlash coming. You will rue the day when it hits you. That day is November 8, 2022.” This declaration, made by Senator Rick Scott (R-FL) to “woke Corporate America,” is one of many warning signs that the expected Republican takeover of at least the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate will not provide relief for companies and industries from excessive regulation and taxation.

Instead, as our CEO Jeff Berkowitz noted in The Hill this morning, Republicans are likely to follow what Democrats did after the 2018 midterm election and exert full oversight authority over an Executive Branch held by the opposing party. As they did in January 2019, companies and industries will find themselves caught in the crosshairs. That’s because everything from the post-2008 financial crisis bailouts to more recent engagement by companies on social issues and environmental, sustainability, and governance (ESG) initiatives has “led an increasing number of conservatives to question whether or not the interests of Corporate America aligned with their own.”

Public affairs professionals cannot wait to prepare their organizations for this whirlwind of investigations. Here’s what you need to know to prepare for the scrutiny that lies ahead.

As GOP Digs Into Biden, Many Industries Will Be Caught in the Web of Investigations

Many Republican members, including those who will likely be chairs of key committees or oversight subcommittees, have publicly pledged to put the Biden Administration under a microscope should the GOP win back control in the midterms. These investigations will hit a range of companies and industries even as they aim at the President.

Healthcare. As we noted earlier this summer, “a wide range of industry participants – from manufacturers to hospital systems to care providers and others,” stepped up to support the government’s response to COVID-19. Now, as Republicans make plans to investigate the Biden Administration’s handling of that response, these firms will undoubtedly be pulled into the inquiries. We have already seen media and government watchdogs dig into how the flood of government funds was allocated and to whom. A Congressional GOP inquiry could add considerable fuel to that fire.

Energy. With the Biden Administration allocating billions of dollars toward green energy projects, Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee will investigate deep into how these dollars are being invested and whether the Biden Administration is creating more climate boondoggles for donors and allies (remember Solyndra?). Banks and asset managers will also face questions about their compliance with the Administration’s pressure to reduce financing for fossil fuels projects, as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission’s efforts to force climate-related disclosures on companies.

Finance. Republican members of Congress – who have already shown skepticism of the practice of ESG investing – are certain to investigate the Biden Administration’s encouragement of and pressure on financial services firms over ESG commitments and social impact investing, with sharp questions for financial institutions Republicans view as cooperating with the Administration. Scrutiny on social impact commitments will stretch beyond finance to other corporations the GOP views as co-opted by the “woke” agenda.

Automaking. Between California’s plans to phase out gas-powered vehicles and Biden’s unilateral executive decisions mandating more electric vehicle (EV) production, the push to grow EV market share by government fiat is already prompting investigations by House Republicans. The recent passage of EV incentives in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is likely to add fuel to that fire. As our energy team noted, the IRA brings to the forefront China’s control over the global supply of critical minerals and metals necessary for EVs. Automakers are moving to address this supply chain issue, but not fast enough to avoid lawmaker questions about post-IRA price hikes and layoffs.

China. Speaking of China, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has already announced a Republican majority will create a bipartisan committee to put our trade relations under a microscope and identify ways to increase our competitive edge with China on manufacturing and supplying critical minerals and minerals, pharmaceutical ingredients, and more. Firms with significant investments in China, or who Republicans believe should be ensuring our national interests over China’s, may find themselves caught in the middle.

Big Tech. McCarthy and Representatives Jim Jordan (R-OH) and James Comer (R-KY) declared a GOP majority will investigate tech companies over alleged censoring of an article in the New York Post detailing emails sent from the laptop of President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, likely as part of or alongside a more comprehensive investigation of alleged tech censorship and anti-competitive excesses.

Pharmaceuticals. As the Administration moves forward with Medicare drug price negotiations and other measures to rein in prescription costs, Republicans could be either a friend or a foe to the pharmaceutical industry even as some members plan their own efforts to pressure the industry. The sector’s reliance on China for active pharmaceutical ingredients is also likely to draw questions.

Fintech. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s aggressive approach at regulating the growing fintech sector, including “Buy Now, Pay Later” and cryptocurrency, has raised the ire of Republicans, and fintech firms could find themselves caught between their would-be regulators and Congressional demands.

Student Loans. Republican threats to probe Biden’s recent executive action on student loan forgiveness for ethics violations may also prompt hearings on how what are essentially taxpayer dollars contribute to the rising cost of attendance in higher education and whether colleges and universities are spending those dollars judiciously.

You Have 118 Days To Prepare Your Testimony

Representative Jamie Comer (R-KY), who is expected to lead the House Oversight Committee if Republicans take the majority, is already laying the groundwork to roll up his sleeves when the new Congress convenes in January. While many of these investigations could originate in his committee, nearly all House and Senate committees have oversight subcommittees that will also conduct investigations into their areas of jurisdiction.

It is likely that in 118 days, the new Congress will be sworn in with Republicans in control of at least one chamber. Companies and industries cannot wait for the election results to prepare for this onslaught of scrutiny. Smart public affairs professionals are already working to ensure their organizations get a fair hearing when it comes.

Trustbusting the Midterms

Here’s What You Need To Know

“Bring down the price … And do it now,” President Biden tweeted earlier this month, directing “companies running gas stations” to sell gasoline at cost. The demand defied logic (the majority of gas stations are independently-owned and have very low profit margins), but it did highlight how frustrated presidents can become over their limited ability to address economic headwinds hindering their party’s electoral prospects. If we have reached this level of rhetoric in early July, just imagine how heated things will get after Labor Day.

It is not just the price of gas drawing ire from elected officials feeling the heat from voters. Progressives and even more establishment Democrats are increasingly blaming corporations, from grocery stores to car companies and beyond for rampant inflation. As Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) told Yahoo! Finance, “A lot of these price increases are potentially due to just straight price gouging by corporations,” which the publication noted, “echoes comments in recent weeks from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and the White House.” Progressive voices, such as The Nation, have cheered on such claims, warning, “A failure to be blunt about profiteering leaves a void that will ill serve their party in 2022.”

While it ignores economic reality, left unchecked this rhetoric – and the accompanying policy responses – could cause lasting damage to companies and industries already struggling to hire workers, navigate supply chain disruptions, and prepare for a potential recession. Public affairs professionals cannot wait for the results of the midterms to stave off the lasting reputational and policy impacts. Here’s what you need to know to take action now.

Profiteering Claims Aren’t Just Rhetoric – They’re Driving Policy Action

Blaming business for economic woes isn’t limited to rhetorical gestures—it’s manifesting itself in an agenda that is being pushed by the President, his appointees, and members of his party in Congress.

Anti-Trust Laws: Last year, President Biden was already laying the groundwork for Democrats’ midterm arguments, directing federal agencies to take investigative action to rein-in corporations, urging direct government intervention in a wide array of industries ranging from meat and poultry to oil production and announcing 72 new antitrust initiatives targeting a dozen industries. Many of these initiatives are being led by financial regulators who have a record of hostility towards the private sector that The White House nominated.

Presidential Appointments: The seeds of the current regulatory environment were sown with appointments made by Biden upon becoming President, including: Lina Khan, Chair of the Federal Trade Commission; Rohit Chopra, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; and Jonathan Kanter, Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. All three have pursued a more aggressive approach to regulating firms.

Wage and Price Controls: In charging that companies are price-gouging, some Democrats are considering price controls as a remedy. In May, the House passed a bill banning “excessive” gasoline prices. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and five Democratic members of Congress have introduced legislation that would impose tax rate increases on companies with CEO to median worker ratios above 50 to 1, while some have called for implementing a maximum wage.

Ending Stock Buybacks: In April, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and leaders of the House Oversight and Reform Committee demanded executives of major oil and gas companies stop stock buybacks and dividends to provide relief at the pump. Of course, suspending buybacks and especially dividends could make it even harder for oil companies to attract the capital required to fund expensive drilling programs that generate more oil. Beyond the energy sector, there had previously been a push among some Democrats to ban stock buybacks entirely.

What’s Really To Blame for Economic Woes?

As we wrote in May, in addition to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, growing demand post-pandemic and difficulties faced by oil producers in ramping up output have been contributing to an upsurge in gas prices. Beyond the pinch at the pump, there are several factors driving inflation:

  • Monetary Policy. The pandemic spurred unprecedented levels of stimulus spending, introducing trillions of dollars of cash into the American economy that would not be circulating under normal circumstances.
  • New Spending Habits. After receiving stimulus payments and accumulating cash savings during the pandemic, American consumers now have greater purchasing power that is accelerating consumer spending.
  • Supply Chain Issues. Even as Americans want to buy more products, they are unable to do so because the supply chain can’t produce and deliver enough of them. Producers must contend with skyrocketing prices for materials, labor, fuel costs, and shipping, ultimately weighing production costs with guesses on future consumer demand.
  • Shrunken Workforce. America’s labor market is still recovering from the pandemic. Meanwhile, the federal government continues to extend eligibility for social safety net programs like Medicaid, food stamps, and unemployment insurance, which some scholars argue deters workforce reentry.

Despite Democratic focus on corporate profits, many economists, including those aligned with past and current Democratic administrations, say the price-gouging and antitrust zeal fails to understand the true nature of the inflationary spike, which they say are more a product of market forces and government policies than corporate greed.

As the Midterm Rhetoric Heats Up, Public Affairs Professionals Must Be Ready

Faced with unhappy constituents frustrated with the party in power, Democrats in Congress and the Biden Administration hope to refocus the conversation on “Big Business” profiteering, and no industry or company will be safe from scrutiny. That means public affairs professionals must be armed with the facts necessary to make their case to the public and policymakers about the current economic reality. Otherwise, damaging ideas based on false premises can gain traction and set the terms of debate for future policy proposals. The right competitive intelligence can equip public affairs professionals with the tools they need to anticipate and address such challenges with calm and confidence.

Forbes Column: Do You Know How Government Is Impacting Your Business?

In his latest Forbes column, Delve CEO Jeff Berkowitz outlines how an ever-changing legislative and regulatory landscape can have a significant impact on your business. To learn the key actions that keep you ahead of change, read the except below, then head to Forbes.com to read the full article.

From mom-and-pop shops on Main Street to Fortune 500 companies trading on Wall Street, the last two years of the pandemic have made clear just how much government action (or inaction) can determine whether and how businesses can operate and grow. That reality was made clear by the frequent changes to Covid-related rules by officials at every level of government, from The White House and U.S. Supreme Court to governors and even city councils. This volatility forced businesses to constantly adapt to ever-changing guidance and regulations, from shutdowns to vaccine mandates to masking ordinances and beyond. Even as we move beyond the pandemic, businesses must remain cognizant of just how much influence elected (and unelected) officials have on their business operations.

Such government involvement is not new or unique to the pandemic. In some places, its intervention is obvious, such as permitting processes under the National Environmental Policy Act or labor rule disputes at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). In recent years, however, governmental scrutiny has compounded, and businesses must increasingly consider the role that lawmakers and regulators have on less obvious day-to-day functions of their business, from pressuring corporations on their boards’ demographic makeup to licensing rules that come with costly repercussions.

At every turn, the government is adopting policies that affect businesses, industries and sectors. Whether your organization is large or small or your industry niche or broad, you may have significant policy challenges that make operating your business more difficult, more time-consuming and costlier. That means you need to stay ahead of government actions, so you can help shape policy in a positive way.

Continue reading at Forbes.com and find out three key actions to help your business manage a growing and complex web of governmental influence.