One of the most amazing things about our political system is that liberals and Democrats have a reputation as being the champion of the little guy and the foe of big business. You would think their enthusiasm for eminent domain and regulatory capture would disabuse us of this notion. But it persists. And, this month, we have another illustration of why their nobel reputation is entirely undeserved.
The GOP Congress is trying, for once, to keep a campaign promise and get rid of some corporate welfare. They are fighting to shrink the transportation bill. They are refusing to renew tax subsidies unless they are paid for with spending cuts. They are targeting the Export-Import bank for closure.
And what is the response from the Left? Are they applauding this? Are they cheering it on? Are they saying, “Hooray! At last the Republicans are doing something right!” Are they glad that someone has listened to their gripes about GE’s tax bill?
As Radley Balko points out, The Nation has come out swinging in favor of the Ex-Im bank, a New Deal relic that was designed to loan money to poor countries so they could buy US goods. It’s no longer needed. Our private lending industry is so huge it lends money to such unlikely people as unemployed home-owners. What the Ex-Im bank — and its counterparts around the world — really does is subsidize exports for favored businesses like Boeing and Wells Fargo. It is heavily politicized, beset with lobbyists and expensive. Eric Cantor has suggested a 13-month extension to give Obama time to negotiate with other countries to cancel their banks. I’ll take that, but it’s not necessary. I’m happy to let other countries finance uncompetitive businesses. I’m happy to let their businessmen spend their time lobbying government rather than inventing.
And the Ex-Im Bank is just one aspect of this. All over our government, people have their hands out. And it is the Left that are wailing and gashing their teeth that, God forbid, we should stop giving piles of money to politically-connected businesses. (Of course, there’s always the likelihood that this is pure partisan bullshittery, but we all know the Left are too principled for that).
You should really read the NYT article in my first link. It’s a perfect illustration of why government spending is hard to cut: concentrated gain; diffuse cost. The people who get money from Ex-Im, the highway bill, green subsidies or whatever are very interested in keeping that money flowing. But the taxpayers are only dinged for a few bucks on any particular bit of largesse so we’re not very motivated. Thankfully, for once, someone is fighting for us.
I do understand that ending these things suddenly may cause some problems and job losses. The transportation bill, in particular, is hung up in a GOP house that can’t get something out and does affect hundreds of thousands of jobs. And it’s not like we don’t need roads. But I am glad to see that these bills are no longer automatic gimmes; that someone — anyone — is starting to consider costs.