Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 11:15 AM ET, 01/ 7/2011

Crony capitalism

By Jennifer Rubin

Big Labor and Big Business are teaming up to protect Big Government. As Greg Sargent put it yesterday, in describing the budding alliance between the AFL-CIO and the Chamber of Commerce: "The two groups rarely agree on anything, and frequently target each other in the harshest of terms, but one thing they agree on is that they don't want the House GOP to make good on its threat to subject highway and mass-transit programs to budget cuts."

This is a golden opportunity for Republican lawmakers and the 2012 contenders. Independent voters mistrust both government and Wall Street, and the sight of those entities in cahoots with organized labor should alarm them as well as Tea Partyers.

Then you have to add into the mix the cast of characters in the White House. There is William Daley, whom Michael Crowley at Time describes as follows:

Daley, 62, is an archetypal face of the 1990s pro-business wing of the Democratic Party. He joined the Clinton administration in 1993 with the specific mission of helping the president pass the North American Free Trade Agreement over strong opposition from labor and Congressional liberals. As Commerce Secretary Daley also led the fight for permanent normal trade relations with China, also anathema to the unions. Labor animus was so great that, when Al Gore named Daley his 2000 presidential campaign manager in 2000, AFL-CIO president John Sweeney declared Daley's positions had put him "squarely on the opposite side of working families." (Daley may be best remembered from that campaign for his dramatic appearance onstage at 3:10 am on election night in Nashville to declare that Gore had called George W. Bush and withdrawn his earlier concession in anticipation of a recount.)

Since then Daley has been making a handsome living as a corporate executive, most recently on the executive board of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co and on the boards of several other big corporations, including Boeing and the giant drug maker Merck.

Republicans were quick to point out that Daley was on the board of Fannie Mae, the government-owned mortgage lender that contributed mightily to the financial meltdown. And they quickly went to the files to remind voters that only last October liberal Senators Al Franken (D-Minn.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) were going after Daley's former employer and other banks for " routinely filed false affidavits, triggering thousands of illegal foreclosures on unwitting homeowners in Minnesota and across the country."

You then have stories like this one, which was picked up by MSNBC last month. The headline says it all: "Wind at their backs: Powerful Democrats help Chinese energy firm chase stimulus money." The details should make even the most ardent Democrat cringe:

Top Democratic fundraisers and lobbyists with links to the White House are behind a proposed wind farm in Texas that stands to get $450 million in stimulus money, even though a Chinese company would operate the farm and its turbines would be built in China.

The farm's backers also have close ties with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who, at the height of his hard-fought re-election bid this fall, helped blunt congressional criticism over stimulus dollars possibly going to create jobs in China by endorsing a proposal by the Chinese company to build a factory in his home state. Although his campaign received thousands of dollars in donations from the wind farm's backers and Reid stood on stage with them at a campaign event they hosted, his office declined to answer any questions about the wind farm's organizers or their plans for Nevada.

Nor does it help when the president deems his departing press secretary's $172,000 salary "modest." Call it a slip of the tongue, but it bespeaks a mindest at odds with the Democrats' "help the little guy" messaging.

Not every liberal is tone deaf on this phenomenon. Over at Salon, Alex Pareene writes:

The smarter conservatives already claim -- with some evidence -- that the White House and the Democratic Party are pawns of the big banks, or that Big Government and Big Business are in a mutually beneficial corrupt relationship. . . . Picking the JPMorgan Chase exec -- who sat on Fannie Mae's board -- doesn't prove the president loves unfettered free markets, it "proves" that the elites are still enriching themselves at the expense of everyone else.

And let's not forget that the same Democrats who are cheering Daley's arrival are still defending the individual mandate, the gift to Big Insurance that delivers unwilling customers to their doorstep. (Free market conservatives and principled liberals have made this point.)

Put it all together and it is a political train wreck ready to happen. It just might not occur until November of 2012.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 7, 2011; 11:15 AM ET
Categories:  Obama White House  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Paul Ryan leads the charge
Next: Democrats need a new argument to save ObamaCare



I have been saying this since Monday when news first broke that Daley might be tapped.

The optics of this, for Obama, just dont make ANY sense!

I understand the narrative of advancing the relationship between big business and the administration, but this also sets up three other narratives (which all put the GOP in a unique position):

1. The Chicago Way lives on

2. Obama CANNOT escape his own inner circle (Daley was Obamas 2008 eco-advisor and was co-chairman of his transition team).

3. The administration is not well versed in creating AMERICAN jobs (Daley was the chief party responsible for NAFTA, which has universally lead to huge U.S. corporate profits, but at the expense of American jobs).

The optics of it, outside of Washington and Wall Street, just dont look too good.

Posted by: Indy82 | January 7, 2011 12:23 PM | Report abuse

Lord Acton raises his inevitable remark,all winning Isms,have their cronys,its the nature of Isms be it capital,social,commun,fasc. "Winners"
hate competition or any threat to their power,position/the Achilles heel of the free market also called "human nature".
PS: Something to think about:Murphy's Law #7,in every system,expenses rise to equal then exceed revenue. With a fiat money system,installed in 1971,Revenue is "infinite"*,therfore,our expenses are rising to equal/exceed revenue.
*What limit is there on the Fed's ability to "produce"money?

Posted by: rcaruth | January 7, 2011 12:28 PM | Report abuse

It is always amusing to me when lefties and libs accuse Wall Street of being "Republican". Anyone that has every worked on Wall Street knows all the big management and most rank and file are democrats.

Name the last former GOP Governor of New Jersey that was a CEO at Goldman Sachs? Where did most of the Clintonistas go after he left office? Where did Rohm make his money? All the big time Demorats have one foot on Wall Street and one foot on Pennsylvania Ave.

I bet anyone a trip on the Circle Line that when Obama is booted out in in 2012 he ends up in NYC but not at Columbia rather several miles south. Chew on that Daily Kos.

The notion that Wall Street is some how Tea Party or even mainstream Republican is laughable.

Posted by: econrob | January 7, 2011 1:39 PM | Report abuse

Wall Street is not the Tea Party's friend.

Posted by: RoscoeMB | January 7, 2011 6:31 PM | Report abuse

In case you missed the news out of Springfield yesterday, the Dems and crony financiers are doing the same exact thing to Illinois (or trying). The Bond markets said, "You guys are deadbeats and we won't lend you any more money to pay for your outrageously generous (but utterly unfunded) public sector pensions unless you massively hike taxes so we know you can at least pay us interest."
The Dem leaders said, "How's a 75% hike on families, and we'll raise corporate taxes to 2nd in the nation."
The bond markets smiled.
But the Dems are having trouble selling their snake oil to the people or their reps. Funny, that.

Posted by: Clio1 | January 7, 2011 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Barack Obama et al. have introduced us to crony socialism.

Posted by: RightKlik1 | January 7, 2011 9:50 PM | Report abuse

The idea that the CofC and far-left groups are at each others' throats is certainly "quaint".

However, they've joined together before years ago in order to support mass/illegal immig.:

And, here's Mr. "Fiscal Conservative" himself, GroverNorquist, joining with the CofC, the ACLU, the NCLR, and other far-left groups to support amnesty:

Posted by: LonewackoDotCom | January 7, 2011 10:42 PM | Report abuse

I just refinanced using "123 Mortgage Refinance" and went from a 5.5/20yr to a 3.25/15yr. Monthly payments went down by about $100 but overall savings over the life of the loan are over $60,000. Definitely worth it in my opinion.

Posted by: pamelakuo08 | January 8, 2011 5:20 AM | Report abuse

The alingment of big labor, big business and big government is not new. Its lately just been stripped of its niceties.

The problem with the progressive/liberal/socialist agenda is that it replaces what you can do with who you know. So 'big' (generous donors to campaigns and sycophants to the politically powerful) extract benefits for the 'big' antithetical to the 'greatest good for the greatest number'. A nation of, by and for the people is replaced by a government of, by and for the big. Simply, its the politics of 'pull'.

Cronyism and big government are synonomous. It has always been so. This is why the founders worked so hard to stop this from happening and why 'the big' work tirelessly to circumvent it. the 'iron law of oligarchy' (thanks to Gaetano Mosca) is very real.

Why this is a surprise is amazing. Its been the case for more than a thousand years and it will neither go away by itself nor be moderated by anything but constant struggle.

With the Constitution, the founders gave us the means to control the politics of pull. Now , we just need to pay attention to it.

Robert Fuller
Hopewell, NJ

Posted by: fuller1 | January 8, 2011 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Scott Rasmussen has been proposing the the divide is not between Republicans and Democrats as much as it is between Big Government/Big Business/Big Labor (those who are politically connected) vs. the rest of us.

This is really what the Tea Party as about. It is a big loud NO to all of the special interests - irrespective of their political affiliation.

The shellacking of 2010 was a minor skirmish compared to what awaits the political class in 2012 and beyond. We the people want our country back, and we are going to take it back from D.C. and its big business/labor cronies.

Posted by: Berndh | January 8, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

DC, Wall Street, and Big Labor. There groups who never shied away from repressing freedom for their own self-interests. They're all joining hands now ... I guess it had to happen sooner or later.

Posted by: nomasir | January 8, 2011 10:13 PM | Report abuse

Question: How do you know if Porky Pig Government is reforming?

Answer: You'll hear a lot of oinking.

Do you hear any oinking? I sure don't. No oinking - no reform.

Bring on the oinking.................

Posted by: PerryM1 | January 9, 2011 8:22 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company