Casey Cagle—Georgia's lieutenant governor and Republican gubernatorial candidate—says he will not support any more corporate welfare for Delta Airlines until the company starts giving National Rifle Association members discounts again.
"I will kill any tax legislation that benefits Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with NRA," Cagle said on Twitter today. "Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back."
I will kill any tax legislation that benefits @Delta unless the company changes its position and fully reinstates its relationship with @NRA. Corporations cannot attack conservatives and expect us not to fight back.
— Casey Cagle (@CaseyCagle) February 26, 2018
The Atlanta-headquartered Delta had previously extended a group travel discount of 2 to 10 percent to NRA members traveling to the organization's national conference to be held in Dallas in May.
On Saturday, Delta said via Twitter that it would be ending these discounts and asking the NRA to remove any information about Delta and its travel programs from its website.
Several corporations, including United Airlines and Enterprise Rent-A-Car, have likewise pulled special discounts they have given to NRA members in response to pressure from activists demanding companies cut ties with the organization following its adamant pro–Second Amendment stance in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, shooting.
The revocation of these discounts provoked a bevy of criticism from right-wing media. Breitbart has spread calls for boycotts of Enterprise, while Fox News writer Todd Starnes livetweeted his call with Delta customer service to see if he, as an NRA member, could still fly with the airline.
— toddstarnes (@toddstarnes) February 24, 2018
Cagle's threat appears to be the first angry reaction to come with potential policy consequences for Delta airlines.
Currently the Georgia state legislature is considering a large tax cut bill that includes an exemption for jet fuel from state and local taxes. The provision is reported to save all airlines $50 million, $40 million of which would accrue to Delta.
The Georgia House of Representatives easily passed the bill last week. The measure is now being considered by the state Senate, where Cagle—by virtue of his position as lieutenant governor—serves as president. Should the 56-member state Senate have a tie on the tax cuts, Cagle would get to cast the deciding vote.
The lieutenant governor's threat has provoked a range of reactions on Twitter. Some have offered criticism of Cagle for threatening to punish a company through the withholding of state benefits solely because of their political expression.
Others have spotted a free-market silver lining. Business Insider's Josh Barro tweeted:
If the culture war makes it harder to get corporate welfare bills through state capitals, that might be a silver lining of the culture war.
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 26, 2018
Libertarians would not be remiss for being split on the matter. One the one hand, a politician refusing to back a special tax break because of his pro–Second Amendment views sounds pretty good. On the other hand, making opposition to corporate welfare contingent on whether businesses themselves hand out special deals to favored interest groups sounds less appealing.