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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  • epador

    bD again makes the case for Michael’s post without really trying.

    [Hint: see last sentence of post]

  • kevino

    Stossel has several reports on crony capitalism. Here’s his report on Serious Materials, a small company that makes windows – and oone that is so small you’ve probably never heard of it. Their executives gave thousands of dollars to the Obama campaign, and they were the only window company to get a big tax break recently.

    What was the tax break? $548,100

    URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QPRBQHfvETQ

    P.J. O’Rourke said: “When politicians decide what can be bought and sold, the first thing bought and sold is the politicians.”

  • 914

    Barry is the Kingpin of bribery. What a crook.

  • recoverd liberal democrat

    Evan Bayh is running away. He just announced he won’t seek re-election. More like he doesn’t want to be embarrassed I would say. Just proves there is no such thing as a moderate, just a fence sitter. He has his retirement and the hell with common folk. DLTDHYOTWO!!

  • bobdog

    So what DO you think companies should be buying with their money, BrainD? More anti-trade unionism? Is that what those evil running dog pig capitalists are getting for their money? Is THAT “The Problem”?

    And yet labor unions are among the largest political contributors in the country. Seems to me the labor unions are getting more for their money than Big Bidniss.

    Perhaps we should just get rid of private ownership of business entirely. Round them all up, give them their Miranda rights and a fair trial, and then hang every one of them. I’m sure you’d be happy to volunteer for Jury Duty, from the sound of it.

    We might as well start calling Obama “Il Duce”, because that’s what fascism is.

    Trouble is, post-revolution, who’s going to pay for your leftie wet dream lifestyle? Big Government? Unions? Who’s going to pay for the government? Who’s going to pay those union dues? Government? Is Obama “gonna pay your mortgage, pay your gas”? I think I’m a-gonna swoon. Free lunch for everybody forever!

    O Happy Day.

  • bostinks2

    personally i would like to see GM and Chrysler fail, just because the government is a stock holder and put a hurt to the expense of Union labor. Ford is now my first choice for future vehicle purchases. Toyota is second and that is because of our government is strong arming the company about the recall. I dont watch NBC and i will soon change from comcast to dishnetwork, a faith based company.

  • bobdog

    Good for you, bostinks2. I do the same thing.

    People ought to vote with their feet. Been driving Fords for 20 years, and I plan to keep doing it until they beat down my caregiver and pry my drivers’ license from my cold dead hands.

  • David

    Kevino – Stossel’s report on the window company is hardly proper reporting – when you look into the facts that Stossel left out. This is what Serious says: http://blog.seriousmaterials.com/?p=1007. You decide on who to quote.

  • kevino

    David:

    Stossel’s reporting looks pretty accurate. Most of the “facts” by Serious Materials are not significant and are a pretty lame attempt at blowing smoke.
    1. RE: #5: There are three big window makers in the US. None of them got special attention and a tax credit. Serious materials did: $548,100. Maybe there is another reason, but it smells.
    2. RE: #5 (more): “However, 7 window and glass companies did qualify.” I know the big three (most people do). None of those on the list come to mind as window manufacturers. In fact, I didn’t know that PPG glass made windows. Serious Materials implies that they do. So I look on the PPG web site. They say that they make “residential glass”. They also say, “PG residential glass products offer quality, innovation, durability, and comfort in any climate. We work with quality manufacturers who use our glass in vinyl windows, wood windows, replacement windows, and sunrooms.” Sounds like they don’t make windows at all. I wonder how many of the other companies mentioned are not competitors.
    3. RE: #7 “The company has never donated to any political party or candidate.” That is not what Stossel reported. He said that the executives of Serious Materials gave money to the Obama Campaign. Does Serious Materials care to refute that?

  • jpm100

    The only reason Toyota is being picked on is because of the 911 call of the family speeding to their deaths compounded by fact the floormats, Toyota’s explanation at the time, were found in the trunk.

    Unless you believe they took one for the team to frame Toyota?

  • 914

    “So you agree with me, then. Because yes, wether Fox or MSNBC, taking your marching orders just because the network gives them to you is idiotic and scary.”

    They are being “picked on ” because they dare to compete against big brother Barry inc. And that’s no lie.

  • jpm100

    For the most part, life long auto industry writers aren’t crying this is out of line considering Toyota’s conduct. Only political pundits with a recent passing interest in the auto industry and a dislike for a Obama seem to see something fishy.

    Its one thing to vehemently oppose Obama. Its another thing to have ODS and see conspiracies everywhere.

  • jpm100

    And although there may be a conflict of interest issue worth looking at because the government has a direct financial interest, ‘cronyism’ is not the category it belongs under by far.

    Cronyism isn’t stripping the ownership of a business away from its owners and/or investors. That would be corporate screw-you-over-ism.

    Cronyism would be the government and private concerns both making out on the backs of taxpayers and consumers. The prime example of this is the regulations applied to the oil industry which kill growth and competition. And although they put on a good show of being antagonistic, they both make out like bandits somehow.

  • The Stossel report was some of the worst reporting I have ever seen. The window company (Serious) never got a dime in fed money, yet opened plants and hired American workers. They make mostly glass, plus some residential windows. And 7 glass and windows guys got $70M in a potential tax credit chosen by an outside group of people, not DOE (and Serious only got qualified for only 1% of it, the smallest one). For Stossel to make something out of that…the guy has lost all credibility. Cronyism is bad, but lack of reporting the facts is worse to me. Are we supposed to be stupid? Give us ALL the facts and let us decide if it smells or not.