Posted: 10:05 am Thursday, June 26th, 2014

Democrats try to poke holes in Georgia’s ‘top biz’ ranking from CNBC 

By Greg Bluestein, Daniel Malloy and Jim Galloway

Updated: Within hours of CNBC’s announcement that Georgia was its pick as the best state for business in 2014, Democrats began probing the decision for weaknesses.

Consider it a sign of how important these rankings could become in a fall campaign for governor.
Late Wednesday, the progressive group Better Georgia – a pro-Democratic policy/attack group headed by Bryan Long – produced some paragraphs that attempted to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the ranking.

In essence, Better Georgia outlined a conspiracy. A spokeswoman for CNBC this afternoon called the idea preposterous. The Deal campaign, also this afternoon, chose to respond with ridicule.

“Next stop is Time’s Person of the Year. We appreciate this group giving Georgia voters such a good laugh, to suggest that NBC is in the pocket of a Republican governor,” said Deal spokeswoman Jen Talber.

But allow Better Georgia to make its case:

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blog… CNBC based its rankings on data provided by the National Association of Manufacturers and the Council on Competitiveness. The chairmen of both organizations have close ties to Gov. Nathan Deal, including giving political donations to the governor and receiving millions of dollars in tax incentives from the state.

Proceed, Better Georgia:

Doug Oberhelman is the Chairman of the National Association of Manufacturers….Oberhelman is also the CEO of Caterpillar, Inc., which benefitted from a $44 million tax break from Governor Deal’s administration to open a new Caterpillar factory in Georgia. Even though Oberhelman is personally benefiting from a tax incentive from the governor, CNBC did not disclose the connection….

Then there was this:

Samuel Allen is the chairman of the Council on Competitiveness, and he has demonstrated a vested financial interest in keeping corporate Republicans in office through his political donations. Allen is the CEO of John Deere, whose PAC has donated $10,100 to Nathan Deal’s campaign and at least $140,650 to Georgia Republicans since 2011.

Here’s the charge:

“Gov. Deal’s most recent ranking claiming that Georgia is No. 1 in business is hardly unbiased,” said Bryan Long, executive director of Better Georgia. “In fact, the data used was fabricated by his own donors and political allies who have received millions of dollars in tax benefits from the state.”

That’s the whole of Better Georgia’s case. Here’s the gist of the response from the aforementioned CNBC spokeswoman:

“CNBC’s America’s Top States for Business is determined from a very clear methodology scoring states based on publicly available data on 56 different measures of competitiveness and ten broad categories. Neither the National Association of Manufacturers nor the Council on Competitiveness provided any of the data used in our study, nor have they ever. CNBC consulted with both organizations in structuring the study in 2007. They have not been involved beyond that, and had no involvement in this year’s study whatsoever. “

Let’s think this through. First of all, economic development is largely about corporate relocation. Business executives are involved – which means Republicans are involved. This should surprise no one, but occasionally it does.

As to Oberhelman of Caterpillar, Inc.: He’s a Republican donor, but Federal Elections Commission records show that his cash stays in Illinois, save for a $2,500 contribution to the 2012 presidential campaign of Mitt Romney.

CNBC didn’t say, but would the cable network – or more specifically, other states competing for the prize – have wanted to know about the connections that linked the NAM chairman, his Georgia factory, and a $44 million tax break? Probably so. But it would have been more disturbing if the CNBC ranking had preceded the tax break.

The people over at NAM put us on the phone with its chief economist, Chad Moutray, who said Oberhelman had no involvement in producing the data that NAM shipped to CNBC — which was all publicly available. From Lea Anne Foster, NAM’s vice president for communications:

“The National Association of Manufacturers’ has provided CNBC with data on manufacturing employment by state in the past, which we obtained from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. … That was the total extent of our contribution to CNBC’s analysis.”

Now, as to Samuel Allen, chairman of the Council on Competitiveness and CEO of John Deere. His company’s PAC is very active when it comes to political activity in a large range of states – many in the Midwest and some in the South, as you might expect of a company that sells tractors.

Georgia is one of two Southern states whose politicians received substantial funds in 2013 from the John Deere PAC, but North Carolina received $70,000 to Georgia’s $46,000 – and the Tar Heels finished fifth in this year’s CNBC rankings.

Moreover, South Dakota finished first on CNBC’s list last year. That year, the John Deere PAC gave a total of $5,000 to politicians in that state — $5,000 to a single member of Congress. No money connection there.

Yes, the John Deere PAC has given $10,100 to Deal in the 2010-12 period, according to followthemoney.org. But the PAC has given more to other Georgia figures recently: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle ($14,000), Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black ($10,700) and state Sen. Tommie Williams, R-Lyons ($10,400).

There’s no sign in the John Deere PAC disclosures that Deal has been singled out for special favors – or that Deal and these CEOs have “close ties.”

So are their Republican-oriented connections in the economic development game? Absolutely. Are the ingredients somewhat subjective? Uh-huh. Was CNBC’s game rigged? Dotted lines aren’t evidence. No jury would convict on this.

One spare thought: Cable news networks are always happy to delve into controversies of their own making. If this story had legs, Jason Carter, the Democratic candidate for governor, would be front and center on CNBC today. He isn’t.

Meanwhile, Site Selection Magazine’s higher-ups are also claiming vindication. Adam Bruns, the publication’s managing editor, sent us a note asking whether he should expect a “full-blown investigation of how Georgia ‘bought’ CNBC’s ranking.”

In an earlier letter that came our way, the publication’s editor, Mark Arend, took a shot at both the media and the Carter campaign.

“This is not the first time such allegations have been aired by campaigns lacking their own economic development plan, nor by media outlets that do not take the time to learn how ranking methodologies are constructed.’

***

Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura slipped into Atlanta last night for a quiet Buckhead fundraiser to benefit the Bush Institute, which includes the Bush presidential library and a policy institute on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Hosts of the event were longtime GOP operatives Eric Tanenblatt and Fred Cooper. Also there: Jimmy Blanchard, Tom Johnson, David Ratcliffe, former U.S. Sen. Mack Mattingly, Nancy Coverdell, widow of the late senator, Virgil Williams, and longtime Bush ally Mercer Reynolds and a number of others.

***

Valdosta’s Moody Air Force Base is getting a new mission to train Afghan soldiers. From our AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin:

MoodyAFB_GAU.S. Sens. Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, both Georgia Republicans, announced Wednesday that Moody is the Air Force’s preferred location for 120 Afghan pilots and maintenance service personnel, 14 U.S. Air force instructor pilots and 21 U.S. maintenance support personnel involved in the mission.

Moody was one of three air bases under consideration for the A-29 Afghan Light Air Support training mission. Moody’s infrastructure, range access, weather, and community support stood out, the senators said. The Air Force will conduct an environmental assessment to validate Moody’s selection later this summer.

The importance here is twofold. First, bringing jobs and economic benefits to Georgia is always something members of Congress will crow about. But it’s also about positioning Moody as essential, to keep it off any future Base Realignment and Closure list.

The Georgia delegation and others have already moved to block the Pentagon’s retirement of the A-10 aircraft — which Moody houses — to make sure the base stays well-populated and relevant.

***

Chambliss, the top Republican on the Intelligence Committee, offered CNN’s Wolf Blitzer some chilling analysis on the spread of ISIS in Iraq:

“Now we have a terrorist organization that controls more territory than any terrorist organization that we’ve ever seen. It gives them a perfect breeding and training ground for operations as well as other terrorists that will seek to kill and harm Americans. and the real fear that we have, of course, is that it will bleed over to Jordan next. …

“Who knows where it’s going next? These folks want a caliphate. They want to control Jordan. They want to control Lebanon, Israel. They’re a large, nasty group of folks.”

But Chambliss is not on the McCain train wanting a big military action:

“If we went in with airstrikes right now we would kill too many civilians along with military. That’s gonna cause more problems than it will solve. The advisers that are on the ground are going to report back to the president when they gather the intel they are sent there to gather.

“They are going to talk about command and control with ISF and see if they cannot garner some spine among the troops that we spent so much money and so much time training to fight theses guys to stand up to them. And if they will do that, then obviously that would be the solution. And it would be without an American military presence.”

***

The National Rifle Association is getting behind state Sen. Buddy Carter in the First Congressional District GOP runoff. Carter passed along the NRA’s letter:

“Based on your leadership on Second Amendment issues in the Georgia State House of Representatives and Senate, you (Buddy Carter) have earned an “A” rating from NRA-PVF in the July 22nd Republican primary runoff. An “A” is reserved for a candidate who has supported NRA positions on key votes in elective office.

“Again, thank you for your unwavering support of the Second Amendment. We urge our members, gun-owners, and sportsmen in Georgia to vote for Buddy Carter in the upcoming Republican primary runoff on July 22nd.”

***

We told you yesterday about the likely temporary ascension of U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, to lead the conservative Republican Study Committee. That’s still on track, but the vote has been put off until after Congress’ July 4 recess.

***

Here’s your sign that tea party forces were really, really ticked off by U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran’s victory in a Mississippi GOP primary runoff on Tuesday:

debbiedooleyclip3Tsk. Language, Debbie.

***

One factor boosting Sen. Thad Cochran — beyond crossover African-American votes — in Mississippi was an endorsement ad from football great Brett Favre. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spot was a spinoff of one that aired in Georgia featuring another gridiron legend. From Politico:

The idea came to Chip Pickering on the evening of June 12. The former Mississippi congressman was sitting in the Hay-Adams Hotel with Tom Donohue, the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Scott Reed, the Chamber’s top political strategist. A dogged operative who hates to lose, Donohue pressed his colleagues for fresh ideas on how to help Cochran.

It was Pickering, now the head of a telecom trade association, who first mentioned the former Green Bay Packers quarterback. The Chamber had aired ads in the Georgia Senate race featuring football giant Herschel Walker – why not call upon Favre, a Gulfport native who now lives and coaches in the Magnolia State?

Politico reports that Favre swiftly agreed to do the ad, apparently a much easier decision than whether or not to retire.

***

Newt Gingrich is still hip to pop culture. And he knows how to get attention with a soundbite. From ABC News:

“Bill [Clinton] is to politics what Fred Astaire was to dancing. He’s just automatically amazing. And he wants to have a Ginger Rogers out there dancing. … Instead, [watching Hillary] is a little bit like watching Kim Kardashian get kicked off the set by Prince,” Gingrich said on CNN, apparently referring to an incident in which the pop star pulled Kardashian onto the stage, then pushed her right back off when she wouldn’t dance.

Bill Clinton “takes several days in a row going, ‘Come on honey, you can do it,’ and he watches her go and there and she goes, womph,” Gingrich continued, pantomiming the candidate falling flat on her face.

“I think there’s a big problem because I don’t think as a candidate, she dances very well,” he added.

43 comments
Jimeddie
Jimeddie

what a bunch of nanny talk


ever heard of a circular firing squad? ok tax them more (or prevent them from coming h ere in the first place with more regulations) and let the well documented and highly efficient govt bureaucracy manage more welfare and training and healthcare programs- think that will fix the problem?


see where that gets us-- oh where it already got us


after a 50 year war on poverty and among the highest per puipil expenditure rate and we have a higher rate of poverty and education aiont looking pretty either- Good job

AvailableName
AvailableName

It seems to me that the CNBC study just proves that "trickle down," the economic theory promoted by the GOP for decades now doesn't work.  Georgia being number one for big business but, is it 32nd in education and quality of life, is another indicator of the current fight between the top few and the rest of us.  Governor Deal needs to explain why the number one ranking hasn't translated into good education and satisfaction for the actual people in the state.  


Our corporate citizens, the Braves, the Falcons, Coke, Gulfstream, Georgia Power, Home Depot and so on, with their tax breaks and out and out tax money handouts are I am sure quite happy with the Governor and his pro-business stance on the issues.


Go do a poll of the flesh and blood people that won't benefit from the Medicaid expansion Deal blocked and see what they say.


The number of unemployed rose this past month, poll those people as to what they think about Deal and corporations.


We have an increasingly two tiered society in Georgia, that of Nathan Deal and his corporate buddies, and the rest of us.


He'd probably be hamstrung by the good old boys under the Gold Dome (and it isn't clear that he isn't a good young boy himself) but it's time for a Democrat, Carter, to be the Governor.

EdUktr
EdUktr

So Jim, your insinuation is that Georgia was picked instead of one of the 28 other states with Republican governors because of  ... (?)



honested
honested

Why would gingrich belittle any successful leader?

Is he that jealous of the ability of people to accomplish successful governance?

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

Coming soon to CNBC'S "American Greed" will be a spotlight on Nathan Deal, his donors and their fabricated business non-sense.

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

A distinction can be made that being the best place for business may not be the same as the best place to work.

In light of recent recall events, we surely don't still believe that's what's good for General Bullmoose is good for the USA.

GaBlue
GaBlue

If Georgia's popularity among executives of large corporations is such an awesome thing, then why are nearly one in five Georgians living in poverty, and just as many uninsured?


OH GOODY.... what a great state we have if you're already rich and powerful! Everybody else can suck it, right Governor?

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

The operative word in the headline is "try".  Not going to work even with this blog fully on board with the Democrat attempt - but that is just business as usual.

This blog loves to highlight Debbie Dooley.  Just why do we care what she thinks about a Mississippi election?  Especially after she has been on the wrong side of every Georgia election and her Braves/Cobb County battle.

DS
DS

I held off on commenting on the CNBC ranking until I had time to study it, but it did seem strange to me that Georgia received top rankings on account of infrastructure and highly educated workforce.

Just recently Nathan Deal decided against the fuel tax inflation adjustment, which would fund road and bridge improvements. Something about how our fragile economy couldn't support this right now, so vital infrastructure improvements will have to wait. Which is it?

Rather than working so hard to get these media rankings, I think the governor should pay more attention to making real improvements that would move our state forward.

Cheers to Senators Chambliss and Isakson for helping to bring this training assignment to Moody AFB. Good work!

Techfan
Techfan

@AvailableName  If you read David Stockman's writings (Reagan's Director of the OMB), he admitted that "trickle down" or supply side was never intended to work. It was simply a code phrase that people wouldn't understand (since there really wasn't any such economic theory) that they could use as a ploy to cut the top tax bracket from 70% to 50%. It was a giveaway to the wealthy with no intent of it ever reaching down to the middle class or creating jobs.

honested
honested

@AvailableName 

The upside is all those people you mentioned get to VOTE.

If the Mississippi turnout example holds, there may be some people showing their displeasure in November.

td1234
td1234

@EdUktr Deal has a great many problems Democrats could talk about and attempt to gain traction but this issue is settled and Deal has done the job of attracting business to Ga. The more the Dems want to talk about this issue the more they lose.  

NWGAL
NWGAL

Will Loudermilk insist that Georgia children learn Klingon?

honested
honested

@PoliticalOutsider 

I do believe I mentioned something about the gentleman's Senate career and consistently backing completely absurd legislation, including unConstitutional and onerous anti-Choice legislation.

Apparently, he has gone a bit far even for his own people.

Point
Point

@GaBlue Oh please get someone to make tshirts...Nathan Deal says suck it Georgia!  I will buy at least 10!

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@GaBlue - Poverty in Georgia is mostly due to a lack of education and mandatory employment skills - which is a culture problem corporations can't fix.  If you are talking about 20% not having health insurance, that would be due to their own decisions to not buy mandatory Obamacare health insurance (much of it subsidized by the feds).

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@KB53 - Actually that chart shows an upturn in 2013.  The GA housing market has been hot in 2014 (not depicted) while the U.S. economy crashed in the 1st quarter (also not depicted).

td1234
td1234

@DS I posted the increased Education scores from the DOE and Mike Buck. The top tier students in this state are highly educated and industry wants them because they did not grow up in union households and continue to have a good work ethic. 

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@DS - I think the infrastructure point centers around the biggest/ busiest international airport in the world with its 5 runways, two hub airlines and separate international terminal.  Add to that we have the CSX railroad hub and following interstate highways: I-20, I-75, I-85, I-285 perimeter, I-575 and I-675.  There are corporate headquarters and business parks/ concentrations in several areas mostly north of the downtown Atlanta areas instead of concentrated in the urban environment.  Highly ranked schools abound in the northern suburbs.  Also the major universities including GA Tech and Emory.  Top notch hospitals and the CDC are also part of the infrastructure.
 

PoliticalOutsider
PoliticalOutsider

td:

Ok, let's talk about a few of Deal's problems:

Education: slashed the education budget every year except election year. Test scores continue to underachiever. 70% of school systems have had to raise local taxes. 70% of school systems have less than the required 180 day school year. Teachers haven't seen a pay raise in years. Teachers hate Deal. Georgia 2nd in the nation in highest college tuition increases, up 93% over the past 5 years.

Transportation: still no statewide transportation plan. New construction is almost non-existent. Transportation funding ranks 49th, yet Deal grandstands for votes by vetoing a legally mandated increase in motor fuel taxes set for July 1.

State Economy: per capita economic output in Georgia has actually dropped under Deal and Perdue administrations. Only 1 other state in America can claim that. The overwhelming number of jobs attracted by Deal and your tax dollars are low wage jobs, which suit our low skilled and under educated workforce.

Ethics: despite the claims of " minor campaign finance violations that are not going anywhere", The taxpayers of Georgia are paying in excess of $3 million to pay for Deal's attempts to cover up this scandal that is "going nowhere". Where I come from, $3 million judgement and settlements means is already gone somewhere....in our pocketbooks. And Deal is the ONLY Georgia Governor to have an ongoing Federal Grand Jury Criminal investigation.

Now those are but a few of Deal's problems. td and Edu can continue to live in fantasy land and pretend that this election is a cakewalk for Deal. You may also wake up the morning after the election and feel like the Tea party in Louisiana did.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@td1234 - Democrats are desperate.  They are fighting an incumbent Governor who has done an at least adequate job in a red state facing big mid-term election problems.  Not a single political pundit predicts a Carter win.  Their attempts at using recycled minor campaign finance violations are going nowhere.  Their nominee laid some eggs earlier this month in Savannah hinting at future tax increases, undefined "difficult budgeting decisions" and "tough choices" if yet more spending were to be done for his education and Medicaid expansion priorities.  He is on record of wanting to change the merit based Hope Scholarship to become means tested - not a popular position.
Even liberal Jim Galloway says: "He can, and should, be required to point to the areas of government he would shrink in order to pay for his priorities." AJC Political Insider 6-17-2014.  The Savannah Port go ahead, the Israel trip meeting dignitaries, and the CNBC business rating hurt them even more. 

Larry1234567890
Larry1234567890

@The_Centrist Actually corporations can fix the skills gap.Remember apprenticeships and on-the-job training? Its just they choose not to. It might take some money away from the CEO who makes, on average,10 million a year.

As far as education goes, when you cut over 8 billion dollars over 10 years and give that money to corporations as tax breaks for jobs that dont materialize, its no wonder we have an unemployment rate thats been highter than the national average for the last 85 months. Thats over 7 years.

I wonder where all those jobs Caterpillar was supposed to create by now. At the announcement there were the promise of 1400 jobs by the time of their one year anniversary, well, where are they at?

GaBlue
GaBlue

@The_Centrist


As usual, you jump right in with your equivalent of "Nuh-UHHHH!"  Why not just skip it if you have nothing meaningful to add?

honested
honested

@td1234 @DS 

REALLY?

Where is that data about 'union households'?

Plus, what did mike buck have to do with anything?

honested
honested

@The_Centrist 

The CDC and the best hospitals are ITP.

GA Tech, Emory, GSU, and several other fine institutions of higher learning, ITP.

CSX hub, ITP.

So where is this nonsense about denigrating the 'concentrated urban environment'?

DS
DS

@The_Centrist, our infrastructure score is mostly due to Atlanta Airport and Port of Savannah. They also assessed roads, bridges, rail and drinking water in this one. (Guess they haven't heard about our water supply woes during droughts or our water wars with Florida and Alabama.)

Hospital and healthcare assessments fall into a different category, quality of life, where we ranked 32.

Schools and university assessments also fall into a different category, education, where we also ranked 32. (Seems odd to rank so low in education yet so high in workforce, which is assessed on the basis of having an educated workforce.)

I just wish our governor would spend more time on making real improvements and less time on these media rankings.

honested
honested

@The_Centrist 

'in a red state' where the sheep have been inculcated with the insane notion there is something inappropriate about collecting adequate revenue.

How is failure to face fiscal hurdles in a straightforward way an 'adequate job'?

td1234
td1234

@The_Centrist Heck they actually even told the truth today about better GA. 


"the progressive group Better Georgia – a pro-Democratic policy/attack group headed by Bryan Long "

GaBlue
GaBlue

@Larry1234567890 @The_Centrist


Exactly. These corporations get tax breaks from our fearless leaders on the NOTION that jobs will appear. There's no contract. There's no accountability in the form of: X number of jobs must be created by X date, in order to receive X dollars in tax breaks.  I'm all for tax breaks for "job creators" but only when they actually create meaningful jobs in significant numbers. If your employees need government assistance of any kind (Walton family billionaires), then you should not get one flat dime of "tax incentives." 

honested
honested

@Larry1234567890 @The_Centrist 

You clearly state the folly of 'tax break competition' between states.

The corporations are always able to shake down weak political leadership for more, but the Citizens are always on the hook.

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

@GaBlue - I merely answered the first two questions you asked.  I ignored your last one: "Everybody else can suck it, right Governor?"

td1234
td1234

@honested @td1234 @DS The union households is not posted data but based on my opinion speaking to other CEO's. 

honested
honested

@td1234 @The_Centrist 

It's about time we had some effective 'attack groups' to fend off the constant rain of wrong-wing BS that has come to be accepted by far to many uninformed Georgians.

GaBlue
GaBlue

@The_Centrist


Nuh-UHH.


There are many causes of poverty, NONE of which seem to be helped by this latest "we're so BIZZZZZNISS friendly!" claim. The high rate of uninsured falls squarely on the shoulders of our business-friendly state leaders who refuse to implement the ACA, the law of the land, that was put in place to address this very problem.  Furthermore, you're silly.

GaBlue
GaBlue

@honested


Well, only because they CARE so much about the little people.  :-P


td1234
td1234

@GaBlue The leading indicators of poverty are: 


Lack of a HS education

Single parenthood

Drug or alcohol abuse


You will find at least one and often more of these conditions in most households that fall below the poverty line.