Georgia lawmakers voted to remove a jet fuel tax break for Delta after the company’s leadership flip-flopped Georgia’s latest electoral law. This situation is so chaotic on so many levels.
Georgia’s controversial new electoral law
Last week, the Georgian legislature passed a voting law based on the assumption that widespread electoral fraud occurred in the 2020 elections. The new law was largely backed by Republicans and opposed by Democrats. President Joe Biden called the bill “Jim Crow in the 21st Century”.
What do Democrats have trouble with? Among other things, the new Voting Act makes it illegal to offer food or water to people waiting in long series of votes, and it allows for unlimited challenges in registering a voter. On the positive side, the bill wasn’t as bad as it could have been, as it protects the ability to request a postal vote without justification and expands early personal voting.
Here’s the thing though – I don’t want to do this politically beyond Delta’s stake. Regardless of how you feel about the law, we can probably agree that the way Delta handled this situation … wasn’t brilliant.
Delta has publicly expressed its support for the Voting Act
Shortly after the Georgia Vote Bill was passed late last week, Delta released the following statement attributed to CEO Ed Bastian:
“Delta believes that unrestricted and equal access to voting is a fundamental right for all citizens. Over the past few weeks, Delta has worked extensively with elected officials from both parties to express our firm belief that Georgia must have a fair and safe electoral process, with broad turnout and equal access to elections.
The law signed this week has improved significantly during the legislative process, adding to the weekend voting, codifying Sunday voting, and protecting a voter’s ability to vote by post for no reason. For the first time, Dropboxing has also been approved for all counties across the state, and poll workers are allowed to work across counties.
However, we understand that there remain concerns about other provisions in the legislation, and these important efforts will continue. We pledge to continue listening to our people and communities, and to work with leaders from both parties to ensure that every eligible employee and every Georgian voter can exercise their right to vote. “
Unlike some others, I personally didn’t see Delta’s statement as unequivocal support for the bill or as the best thing ever. Delta believed that legislation “has improved significantly during the legislative process” and that “concerns remain” and that “these important efforts are still being worked on”.
At the same time, the airline did not publicly oppose aspects of the bill that people believed were unacceptable. Delta received huge backlash for its stance, and many called for the airline to be boycotted.
Delta doubled its stance on voting
Following the backlash Delta received, CEO Ed Bastian has apparently doubled for supporting the bill. Employees expressed concern about the company’s attitude, which is why Bastian posted an internal video defending Delta’s position. His argument was that Delta was trying to shape the legislation behind the scenes, not in the media.
He also stated that there is no way the company will be able to completely prevent the law from being passed, given that the legislature is controlled by the Republicans. In other words, Delta knew the bill was about to pass, did what it could to improve it a bit, and thought there was no point in publicly being negative about it.
Then Delta went back to the bill
Delta got even more backlash after doubling its stance, at which point the company issued a memo to employees stating that the Georgia bill was “unacceptable” and “not up to the values of the Company corresponds “.
Bastian also stated that “the entire rationale for the bill was based on a lie: that there was widespread electoral fraud in Georgia.”
State lawmakers voted to strip the tax break for Delta
Yesterday, the Georgia House of Representatives decided to withdraw a tax break from Delta on jet fuel valued at tens of millions of dollars a year. It did so after Delta traced the ballot and condemned the government. I think if Delta did not support the state parliament, the state legislature would not support Delta.
Ultimately, however, this was only symbolic as the Senate did not take up the measure before adjourning its annual session.
This is the second time Delta has been in such a situation – as early as 2018, Delta terminated its contract to provide discounted prices for group travel to the NRB. As a result, Republicans in Georgia voted to revoke Delta’s jet fuel tax break.
Regardless of how you feel about the Georgia voting law, we can all agree that Delta did not handle this optimally – the airline managed to piss off almost everyone, and there was even a vote to get the airline off tens of millions of dollars worth of jet fuel tax breaks exempted (though this was ultimately only symbolic).
On the surface, I can tell where Delta was originally from – the airline didn’t think they could crush the bill overall, so they tried to make it as bad as possible. The problem is, if it doesn’t, you won’t be able to make a statement that gives the impression that the company supports the legislation in general. And then when you get a game, doubling down probably isn’t wise. And then as you get more play, reversing your position is probably not your best option.
Isn’t it a little strange how much companies are involved in drawing up invoices on how individuals can vote? And isn’t it also interesting how the legislature only supports low taxes for those who support their agenda?
I’m curious, someone does Not Do you think Delta screwed it up badly, at least with its news?