Thanks to Obama, crony capitalism thrives in DC

Via the Washington Examiner, a must-read from Byron York: “Under Obama, crony capitalism again rules the day“:

Lobbyists, reports the Center for Responsive Politics, had a record 2009 in Barack Obama’s Washington. Despite candidate Obama’s promises to shun them, they raked in $3,470,000,000.

… Crony capitalism is now the order of the day in the United States. The government and the United Auto Workers own General Motors and Chrysler, which aren’t likely to pay back their billions in TARP money any time soon, if ever. Meanwhile the government tells Americans to stop driving Toyotas.

The government was going to remake the health care sector, and so Billy Tauzin and other health care industry lobbyists were busy in the White House cutting deals to keep their clients above water. The government was going to remake the energy sector, and utility CEOs and lobbyists have been busy flaunting their green credentials.

As my Washington Examiner colleague Timothy Carney has been documenting, Big Business has been busy lobbying Big Government for “reforms” that serve big companies’ interests. Wal-Mart backs a health care mandate, Philip Morris shapes tobacco regulation, General Electric is setting up a joint venture to trade carbon offsets (wasn’t that Enron’s line of work back in the day?).

The picture is not pretty. Government’s pets or, in the president’s words, “savvy businessmen,” use government to get policies that will give them competitive advantages and stifle smaller competitors. Pleasing their masters in government is now absorbing the psychic energy of CEOs who used to concentrate on meeting consumers’ needs in order to make profits.

Here’s something you can take to the bank — politicians cannot drastically grow the Federal government and nationalize (or attempt to nationalize) entire industries, and at the same time walk away from the lobbyists who represent those industries. Raising money for political campaigns works the same way, too. Who do you think received the biggest 2008 political contributions from banks, pharmaceutical companies, and technology companies that could potentially reap great benefits from “cap and trade” legislation? Hint: it wasn’t John McCain and the Republicans.

“Savvy businessmen” know that there is a lot of money to be made in sweetheart deals with the Federal government. In the same way that union contracts can be turned into an advantage for employers by providing fixed costs and low employee turnover, industry giants can also lobby Congress for special perks, mandates, tax breaks, and other goodies that guarantee healthy revenue streams and diminish the ability of smaller companies to compete.

John Hinderaker notes that there is an eerie similarity between the renewed vigor of Big Industry lobbying and the strong government-industrial alliances that were forged in Europe under fascism and National Socialism in the 1930’s.

Anyone who knows history and values liberty should be running as fast and as far away from these policies as possible. And yet the political Left seems clueless as to why so many Americans are unhappy with the future that the Democrats have planned for us.

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