Though it was reported as news, the left’s 2014 blueprint isn’t novel – it is the same strategy they’ve employed with varying degrees of success for decades. The New York Times provides a helpful summary:
House Democrats are reassessing their electoral strategy based on a major internal research project that shows their candidates stand a better chance when they portray Republicans as unsympathetic to the economic situation of working Americans while protecting the wealthy.
If “protecting the wealthy” is code for corporate welfare, then these so-called strategists may want to check some congressional voting records. America’s political left – from Blue Dog Democrats to radical progressives – tend to be among the most supportive of corporate welfare.
Take the recent House vote to reauthorize the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), which subsidizes private domestic companies investing in foreign countries. Every single Democrat (except one) voted in favor of a corporate welfare machine Milton Friedman once called “special interest legislation of the worst kind.”
In a speech at Heritage on Tuesday, House Finance Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, elaborated on this dynamic, saying the left “want[s] to allocate credit in our economy as part of a political process” and they “are always happy to subsidize corporate America as long as they can also regulate and control it.”
The aforementioned New York Times piece conveniently ignores the hypocrisy of fighting to protect corporate subsidies, especially through taxpayer-backed agencies, while accusing your political opponents of doing the same.
Unfortunately, conservatives have not been able to capitalize on this blatant dishonesty because for far too long, our side has been branded as a tool for the elites and well-connected. At times, that criticism has been brutally accurate (see Tom DeLay’s K Street Project). Often, though, the left intentionally tries to link policies that bring fairness and empowerment (see tax reform) to corporate welfare.
As Hensarling noted, our movement currently lacks “moral authority” on the issue of cronyism. Until we reject what he dubbed the “Washington insider economy,” the public will understandably remain dismissive of our calls to rid our political system of cronyism and corporate welfare.
To be sure, proponents of big government will use every opportunity available to them to make the case to the American people that conservatives care only about the well-off and well-connected. In turn, we must use every opportunity available to us to demonstrate an ironclad commitment to reversing the corrosive tide of crony capitalism.
The most obvious stand, of course, is the forthcoming reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank. This taxpayer-backed export agency caters to big business – more than 60 percent of its financing benefitted just 10 big corporations last year. If the bank is not reauthorized by October 1, it will expire.
Some are suggesting the bank has been around too long to simply allow it to expire. But the genesis of corporate welfare – in this case, an executive order from FDR – is of little concern to the American people. Corporate welfare is corporate welfare and should be eliminated, which is exactly what Hensarling suggested: “Today I call upon every Republican in Congress to let Ex-Im expire. Let the American taxpayers exit Ex-Im once and for all.”
Conservatives should not be in the business of protecting or justifying corporate welfare; in fact, we should allow the political left to be the nation’s sole dispensers of corporate welfare. And then we should bring it to light, and end it.
Allow President Obama and the radical progressives in Congress and on MSNBC to defend billions of taxpayer dollars flowing to multinational companies. Allow them to defend the big banks making taxpayer-backed loans. Allow them to defend subsidies that boost foreign competitors and undercut American industries.
As The New York Times suggested, the left’s best political message is to suggest that conservatives are “protecting the wealthy.” Rebutting the charge is easy if, as Hensarling suggested, we are willing to “tell K Street ‘No’ so we can tell the American people ‘Yes.’”