â€œPeople say theyâ€™re for this new stakeholder economy, that theyâ€™re committed to sustainability,â€ said Mr. Hollender, now the chief executive of the liberal American Sustainable Business Council. â€œBut at the same time, there is a system of incentives designed to maximize profits, and when those profits are threatened, businesses donâ€™t like it.â€
More mainline business groups recoiled at the accusation. Mr. Bradley, of the Chamber of Commerce, agreed that parts of the Democratic vision mirrored the business lobbyâ€™s longstanding wishes. Accessible child care is a high priority, he said, and addressing climate change with investments in clean energy is overdue.
â€œThe administration was right to raise I.R.S. enforcement to close the tax gap,â€ he added. â€œWe want a pro-growth tax code, but we want people to comply with that tax code.â€
But he said the way Democrats were addressing those issues â€” by hastily lumping them into one voluminous $3.5 trillion measure to be passed through a fast-track process known as reconciliation â€” guaranteed opposition.
For instance, business groups had been working with lawmakers from both parties to try to create a paid family and medical leave program that would be paid for with a payroll tax, shared among businesses, workers and the government. To satisfy Mr. Bidenâ€™s pledge not to raise any taxes on people with incomes below $400,000, the payroll tax has disappeared, replaced by a variety of tax increases on rich people and corporations that are no longer connected to the program they are to finance.
â€œPaid family leave, outside a reconciliation context, would require intense negotiations and trade-offs, but it wouldnâ€™t be outside the realm of possibility that we could find a proposal that we could support,â€ Mr. Bradley said. â€œInside reconciliation, itâ€™s only getting worse.â€
The Business Roundtable, which represents the chief executives of the nationâ€™s largest corporations, expressed a similar desire. â€œThere is strong bipartisan support for some of these policies, and we encourage Congress to take them up through that deliberative process, not via reconciliation,â€ the group said in a statement.