Business vs. markets

Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama signs the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank at the White House in Washington May 30, 2012.

Article Highlights

  • A recent AP headline brings intriguing news: “Conservatives make it rough for business.” @JonahNRO

    Tweet This

  • “Republicans have preferred being pro-business to being pro-market.” @JonahNRO

    Tweet This

  • What will be intriguing is the way mainstream media responds to the growing philosophical consistency on the right @JonahNRO

    Tweet This

A recent Associated Press headline brings intriguing news: "Conservatives make it rough for business."

Donna Cassata reports that various business groups had a tougher-than-expected time renewing authorization for the corporatist carbuncle known as the Export-Import Bank. "Congress had reaffirmed the independent federal agency some two dozen times since its creation in 1934," she writes. "But this year it took months of pleas, briefings and negotiations to overcome conservative opposition."

So what is the Right's latest ideological obsession? Has the Ex-Im been paying for lesbian birth control?

No, the conservatives are caught up in an even deeper dogmatic quagmire. Cassata explains: "They and their ideological leaders argue that the marketplace should dictate what businesses thrive and falter, not Washington."

Sweet fancy Moses! What's next? Will conservatives come out in favor of bears doing their bathroom business in the woods without government oversight? Will the market fundamentalists soon argue that children eat candy for the sweet, sweet taste? Is there no end to their ideological madness?

"Saying you're more capitalistic than the Democrats is like saying you're sexier than David Axelrod." -Jonah GoldbergSarcasm aside, the depressing -- or encouraging -- thing about Cassata's report is that it is in fact news. For far, far, far too long, Republicans have preferred being pro-business to being pro-market. To be sure, they were always more ideologically constrained than the corporatists of the Democratic Party, who, since the Progressive era, have seen nothing wrong with using big business as government-by-proxy. But that's an awfully low bar. Saying you're more capitalistic than the Democrats is like saying you're sexier than David Axelrod.

Conservatives -- and especially libertarians, but also some leftists -- have been building the case against corporatism for a very long time. But what has prompted this new aversion to it has less to do with the force of those arguments than with the power of example. President Obama is easily the most corporatist president since FDR. He bought a couple of car companies. His health-care law turns insurance companies into utilities. He increasingly speaks the language of economic nationalism used by the two Roosevelts.

It's far too soon to tell if the opponents of "crony capitalism" will capture the commanding heights of the Republican Party, never mind the country. After all, the Ex-Im Bank ultimately got its reauthorization. Still, the trend is encouraging.

What will be intriguing to watch is the way the mainstream media and establishment institutions respond to this growing philosophical consistency on the right. My very strong hunch is that they will decry it as another example of "polarization" and the end of compromise. The old bipartisan consensus around a bad idea will be seen through the gauzy lens of nostalgia, while the new partisan disagreement over a good idea will be greeted with fear. And the Democrats will of course take the position that they aren't ideologically committed to corporatism, it's just a coincidence that at this particular moment it makes enormous sense for Washington to dictate which businesses thrive or falter.

But it is always that particular moment for those who like dictating from Washington.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Jonah
Goldberg

  •  


    A bestselling author and columnist, Jonah Goldberg's nationally syndicated column appears regularly in scores of newspapers across the United States. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a member of the board of contributors to USA Today, a contributor to Fox News, a contributing editor to National Review, and the founding editor of National Review Online. He was named by the Atlantic magazine as one of the top 50 political commentators in America. In 2011 he was named the Robert J. Novak Journalist of the Year at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). He has written on politics, media, and culture for a wide variety of publications and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs. Prior to joining National Review, he was a founding producer for Think Tank with Ben Wattenberg on PBS and wrote and produced several other PBS documentaries. He is the recipient of the prestigious Lowell Thomas Award. He is the author of two New York Times bestsellers, The Tyranny of Clichés (Sentinel HC, 2012) and Liberal Fascism (Doubleday, 2008).  At AEI, Mr. Goldberg writes about political and cultural issues for American.com and the Enterprise Blog.

    Follow Jonah Goldberg on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-7165
    Email: jonah.goldberg@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.