John Feehery’s piece here on the dangers of rising Republican skepticism for big business is an amusing read, not just because I’m pretty sure nearly every sentence of it can be debunked in whole or in part. The tone is one of desperate confusion: when did the Republican Party stop being knee-jerk pro-business in the subsidies and carveouts and bailouts sense? Why do they want to kill the jobs of hardworking K Street influence peddlers?
Feehery writes that “Amid the fight for the soul of the Republican Party, some elements of the GOP coalition have become overtly hostile to Big Business.” I think that’s just false: no one is “overtly hostile” to big business, nor are they hostile because it’s big. Rather, they’re hostile to big business that uses government policy to warp the marketplace. No Republican is saying that Boeing needs to be broken up, just that they don’t have special privileges.
“Defeating crony capitalism has become the battle cry of libertarian conservatives.” Wait, does he mean that “real” Republicans should actually support crony capitalism? If Feehery equates “hostility to big business” with “defeating crony capitalism,” that suggests some big business profits do in fact come from cronyism, which you would think all Americans would oppose. (Except lobbyists.)
“Big Business wants immigration reform and higher academic standards for elementary and secondary schools–policy priorities that drive the hard right into conniptions.” Well, except everybody is for immigration reform – the system is a catastrophe – and higher academic standards – they are too lax. The debate is over what kind. But to suggest that the “hard right” opposes those things because they oppose the Gang of Eight and Common Core is intellectually dishonest, almost as insulting as claiming being in favor of home schooling means you want to break down community.
“What would happen if Big Business decided to change sides? What would happen if the Chamber of Commerce suddenly stopped being a huge fundraising machine for the Republican Party and started financing pro-business Democrats? That is the dream of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.)–and the nightmare scenario for House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio).” So because big business gives Republicans a lot of money, they should do special favors for them? Of course Chuck Schumer very much wants to be the party of cronyism – but again, if the price of corporate campaign dollars is corrupt manipulation of the economy to benefit large politically connected corporations at the expense of working families, that’s a pretty high price.
“Could Democrats make a coalition of big business and labor work?” Well, to a certain extent, they already do! That’s the whole reason this argument has juice. The highway bill Feehery mentioned is essentially a money laundering scheme from taxpayers to labor bosses. And business already gives to Democrats to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Whatever grassroots liberals think about inequality, Washington Democrats know that their rhetorical attacks on the 1 percent are simply cover for doing the bidding of big business on all sorts of issues. Chris Dodd understands the danger of this hypocrisy, and so do a lot of smart Democrats.
“How could the Republicans survive as a purely populist/libertarian political party?” Wait, so only populists and libertarians oppose cronyism? I mean, I understand that’s why the U.S. Chamber is opposing Justin Amash. But is Paul Ryan “purely populist/libertarian” – he just gave a speech on cronyism and called for getting rid of the ExIm bank, which is of course currently under investigation. Are Marco Rubio, Jeb Hensarling, Darrell Issa, and Jim Jordan all crazy populist libertarians?
The truth is that anti-cronyists on the right aren’t anti-business, nor will their policy approaches lead to business suddenly shifting to a monopartisan Democratic bent. http://vlt.tc/13za They simply want businesses to earn their profits in a competitive marketplace, and they want Washington to stop sending taxpayer dollars to insulate business from risk. Suggesting that being anti-cronyism means you are opposed to business is absurd. It just means you’re opposed to Feehery’s business, which consists of profiting handsomely off an alliance between Republicans, big business, and big government policy to dole out pork.
And that’s Feehery’s real concern: that his clients won’t be around to hire the money.
[Originally published at The Federalist]