Lee Could Make Election About Crony Capitalism


Republicans could make the 2014 election about business bailouts and crony capitalism, if they wanted.

“If Republicans want to grow their party into a national majority, we must begin, as Reagan did in 1981, by confronting our present crisis: America’s large and growing Opportunity Deficit, namely, immobility among the poor and insecurity in the middle class,” wrote Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah.

Lee called the shortage of opportunities among the poor and middle class “an unholy union of big government, big business, and big special interests that twists public policy to benefit Washington insiders unfairly at the expense of everyone else.”

That, Lee wrote, is crony capitalism.

In a column for the Washington Examiner, Timothy P. Carney, wrote the Republicans could stoke the fire regarding crony capitalism and Washington’s lobbyist problem, but only if Republicans actually oppose government handouts to well-connected big businesses.

And there are irons in the fire, highlighting Republicans opposition of crony capitalism.

One example is Lee’s bill with Representative Justin Amash, R-Michigan, to abolish Obama’s favorite export agency, the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

“The upcoming battle over reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank—one of the most egregious cases of corporate welfare—is the perfect chance to show the public who in Congress believes that even the wealthy and well-connected have to earn their success on a level playing field, subject to the judgment of the market,” wrote Lee.

Ex-Im finances U.S. exports at taxpayer risk. It’s mostly a subsidy to a handful of big manufacturers like Boeing and Caterpillar, their foreign customers and the banks who get to offload their risk to U.S. taxpayers.

According to Lee, “If it reauthorizes the bank’s charter this year, Congress would allow Ex-Im to redirect money from hard-working Americans to politically favored corporations, deliberately rigging the rules for big government and big special interests and against everyone else. The fight against reauthorizing the cronyist Ex-Im Bank is probably the most important and winnable effort conservatives can take up this year.”

Opposing something like the Ex-Im Bank would be good for the Republican Party. It would be very telling to voters.

“Far from some kind of romantic purity test or campaign gimmick, anti-cronyist reform is at once pro-growth, principled, and popular. Indeed, it is essential to transforming our movement into a majority,” concluded Lee.