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Conservatives &Fiscal Policy Richard Falknor on 08 Apr 2009 02:03 pm

Big Business, Free Enterprise, Romancing the “Moderates”

UPDATE! EXTRACT FROM JONAH GOLDBERG’S   “Democrats and Businessmen, Sitting in a Tree . . . Big corporations love free enterprise, as long as it isn’t too free” from National Review, April 6, 2009 (subscription only): ” . . . [W]e’re constantly hearing from strategists who insist that the answer is to loosen up, baby — become more socially liberal while staying fiscally conservative. The key problem is that fiscal conservatism, whatever its merits, isn’t economic conservatism in the free-market tradition of Hayek, Friedman, Reagan, et al. As a generalization, when people say they are fiscal conservatives but social liberals, what they are really saying is that they are, simply, moderate liberals. Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Arlen Specter, and the rest aren’t socially conservative, and they aren’t economically conservative either.”  Subscribe to National Review Digital and read the entire revealing Goldberg article.

Big Business, Free Enterprise, Romancing the “Moderates”

“The heroes of the small government cause are the goats of the big business cause.”

Timothy Carney in his recent DC Examiner post “New Chamber index shows conservatives aren’t corporate pawns” here declares that – –

“Liberal Democrats often accuse conservative Republicans of being pawns for Big Business, but the 2008 scorecard for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce—the largest lobbying organization in the country and the official Washington voice of business—provides convincing evidence to the contrary. In fact, the policy agenda of big business can be very different from that of limited-government conservatives and libertarians.

Four Republican senators failed to earn the Chamber’s “Spirit of Enterprise Award” (earned for scoring 70% or above): DeMint, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, Jon Kyl of Arizona, and Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

These are among the most fiscally conservative, pro-limited government members of the upper chamber—which is precisely their error, in the eyes of the Chamber. The heroes of the small government cause are the goats of the big business cause.

DeMint, for instance, picked up the highest score last year from NTU, and Kyl and Inhofe were close behind—all three winning NTU’s “Taxpayer Friend” awards.

Similarly, DeMint picked up the only perfect Senate score from ACU, while Kyl and Inhofe tied for second with 96%.

With which votes did these GOP lawmakers earn Chamber scorn? Kyl, Inhofe, DeMint, and Sessions were four of the eight senators to vote Nay July 31 on the “College Opportunity and Affordability Act,” creating $34 million in new subsidies for colleges, probably driving up tuition at taxpayers’ expense rather than making college more affordable.

These four also voted against the Chamber’s position by opposing President George W. Bush’s February 2008 stimulus bill that sent checks to taxpayers. The ‘rebates’ were one-time tax credits that excluded higher-income earners but included some people with no income tax liability.

Conservatives instead proposed long-term, broad-based tax cuts—for example, making permanent the 2001 tax cuts set to expire in 2011—as opposed to one-time stunts turning the IRS into a welfare agency.

And, of course, DeMint, Inhofe, and Sessions upset the Chamber by voting against the massive $700 billion Wall Street bailout—which has since grown into a Detroit bailout, and a tool which the Obama administration is using to tell banks and carmakers how to run their businesses.” (Emphasis Forum’s.)

Readers can see the U.S. Chamber’s 2008 ratings for themselves here. (Readers might also be interested in viewing some of the U.S. Chamber’s spending on immigration lobbying here.)

In a related post on the assault on free enterprise, Steven Malanga today warns about “Obama and the Reawakening of Corporatism” here in “Real Clear Markets” explaining —

“Among the 100 largest firms today, a number—including FedEx, Microsoft, Cisco, and Home Depot–didn’t even exist in 1970. So profoundly has the landscape changed that 80 percent of the Fortune 100 companies today are different from 1970.

All of this is the result of an entrepreneurial revolution spurred by everything from intensifying international competition starting in the late 1950s, to the lowering of confiscatory tax rates starting in the 1960s, to a series of technological revolutions that gathered momentum in the 1970s, to the taming of inflation in the early 1980s. During that time the corporate team player, the quintessential organizational man, slowly gave way to the dazzling but disruptive entrepreneur whose innovations rapidly reshaped the economy—and the ranks of corporate America—several times over.

But we are entering quite a different age right now, one in which the President of the United States and his hand-selected industrial overseers fire the chief executive of General Motors and chart the company’s next moves in order to preserve it. Conservative critics of the president have said that the government’s GM strategy is one of many examples of an America drifting toward socialism. But President Obama is not a socialist. If his agenda harks back to anything, it is to corporatism, the notion that elite groups of individuals molded together into committees or public-private boards can guide society and coordinate the economy from the top town and manage change by evolution, not revolution. It is a turn-of-the 20th century philosophy, updated for the dawn of the 21st century, which positions itself as an antidote to the kind of messy capitalism that has transformed the Fortune 500 and every corner of our economy in the last half century. To do so corporatism seeks to substitute the wisdom of the few for the hundreds of millions of individual actions and transactions of the many that set the direction of the economy from the bottom up.”
. . . . . . . . . .
Corporatism is especially attractive to politicians, public intellectuals who serve as policy makers, and Nobel Laureates because it is ultimately a world managed by the few, the elect, through the state. If we are told enough times that nothing, even technological innovation, is possible anymore without significant contributions and directions from the state, maybe we’ll eventually come to believe it, although the inventors of the printing press, the steam engine, the light bulb, the telephone, and internal combustion engine and other game-changing technologies might wonder how they accomplished what they did without government.”
(Emphasis Forum’s.)

Politically, we all should want to avoid the scenario that former Speaker Newt Gingrich sketched last Wednesday here:

“If the Republicans can’t break out of being the right wing party of big government, then I think you would see a third party movement in 2012.”

How does this all come into play locally?

Readers in Maryland will want to examine whether their Republican state legislators here supporting green statist schemes have contracted the large-government affliction formerly known as Bush’s Syndrome. 

Readers in Virginia will want to ask their state and national Republican politicians exactly what kind of  “economic concerns” they have in mind when they are said, in the Washington Post’s words here, to want to “reach out to more moderate voters with a pledge to focus chiefly on economic concerns.”

Do they mean crafting a scheme for higher local taxes without their fingerprints here? Do they mean voting here for a precedent here for confiscatory Federal taxes?  Don’t forget we labor today under the ill effects of the TARP legislation which some celebrated Virgina Republican U.S. Representatives supported here.


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