Department of Cronyism

Politicians’ decisions rest on political pressures. So how could a Department of Business be a good idea?

You know what could really help the economy? A huge new bureaucratic department in Washington, that’s what.

President Barack Obama, a man who recently asserted that the “free enterprise system is the greatest engine of prosperity the world’s ever known,” intimated that once he secures a second term in office, he would appoint a Secretary of Business to manage a newly-merged, but still unnamed, agency that would offer Americans that top-down guidance they never asked for—a homeland security for cronyism, if you will.

“We should have one Secretary of Business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like giving loans to SBA or helping companies with exports,” Obama explained in an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “There should be a one-stop shop.”

The Department of Business promises to do to business what the Department of Education has done for education. It’s the sort of idea that sounds like it adds efficiency but actually offers the opposite. The larger context of the idea comports well with the president’s belief that a healthy private sector is healthiest when relying on the dedicated technocrats.

But as a political matter, it promises results. If Mitt Romney, for instance, loses the election over Ohio and the president’s auto bailouts, a handout that allegedly saved one in eight jobs in the Buckeye State, politicians will surely have re-learned an invaluable lesson: the more taxpayer money you spend, the more votes you earn.

And if winning elections means funding busy work at a union-run money pit or keeping a pleasing sunflower-logoed company afloat via a stimulus package, imagine what an entire agency giving out favors could accomplish? On the surface, a consolidation of a bunch of agencies sounds like a bright idea, but there is, as you know, plenty of room for mission creep in the pretending-to-do-good business. With 54 former lobbyists (according to Timothy Carney of the Washington Examiner) in the Obama Administration, it, no doubt, has a keen sense of what the business world is looking for — handouts.

But the most obvious pitfall of a Council for Mutual Economic Assistance, or whatever it’ll be called, is that it would further institutionalize the absurd notion that government can foresee what consumers desire and then “invest” accordingly. When Obama talks about “jobs of the future” he means jobs the government will subsidize because people who vote for him like the sound of it. The more they fail, the more it will have to “invest.” It’s not about what you want, it’s about you need.

If the Obama Administration was an investment house, it would have tanked long ago. Its record on green energy is horrid. It has heaped federal loans and subsidies onto coal-powered electric cars—an “investment” that “will not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil,”Obama said in 2009, but “put Americans back to work.” Hardly. The Chevy Volt’s been a tepid seller, at best, and without taxpayer subsidizes few could afford a $100,000 compact car. Toyota, the world’s largest carmaker, has stopped mass production of a new sub-compact iQ plug-in. Toyota executive Takeshi Uchiyamada recently explained that, “current capabilities of electric vehicles do not meet society’s needs, whether it may be the distance the cars run, or the costs or how it takes a long time to charge.”

Does government care if ethanol or a windmill meets society’s needs? Does it care about cost? Uchiyamada risks stockholder investments—real investments—while politicians’ decision-making rests on political and ideological pressures. So how could a Department of Business be a good idea?

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  • mr simple||

    He really does want to be the next Il Duce, doesn't he?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    More like the Drop a Deuce, amirite?

  • Loki||

    Il Douchey?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Hey, I trademarked that.

  • R C Dean||

    Great Il Ducey pic of him on a yard sign:

  • mr simple||

    Someone on that page claims Mussolini had the slogan "Avanti!" (Forward). I couldn't find anything on that, but here's an advertisement for the Italian Socialist newspaper of that name, which was briefly edited by Mussolini.

  • Loki||

    It's actuall an old marxist slogan. I thought everyone knew that already.

  • califernian||

    Let's not kid ourselves, Obamaney LOVES this idea and both of his/their parties will embrace it wholeheartedly.

  • Disgusted Dem||

    I couldn't help but think of Homer Simpson and the Leader of the Movementarians.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    “There should be a one-stop shop.”

    You could add it to the department that has these already in it.

    Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)
    Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS)
    U.S. Census Bureau
    Economic Development Administration (EDA)
    Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA)
    International Trade Administration (ITA)
    Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA)
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
    National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)
    National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
    National Technical Information Service (NTIS)
    U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
  • Pro Libertate||

    Having to maneuver through the web of state, local, and, yes, federal laws and regulations governing all aspects of business can be trying and very expensive. What the president is proposing is one central regulatory authority to which businesses can deal with for all issues, including price-setting (based on the ability of the consumer to pay), green initiatives, and other matters critical to the future of this great nation.

    Submit to the superior will of our great leader.

  • ||

    One regulatory authority to bring them all and in the darkness bind them!

  • Pro Libertate||

    Perfect--you've uncovered the perfect symbolism.

    One Agency to rule them all, One Agency to find them,
    One Agency to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
    In the Land of Columbia where the Politicos lie.

  • Fatty Bolger||

  • Sudden||



  • Randian||

    Talk about taking the Express Route to Gridlockville. No Congress in a million years is going to authorize the creation of this.

  • R C Dean||

    Sure you want to say no Congress would approve the creation of a new engine of cronyism and campaign contributions?

  • Rasilio||

    Of course not, because that engine would be in the executive branch and make their own role relatively less important.

    I mean they are all fine with delegating most things to the executive branch, but not something that could actually cut into their campaign donations.

  • Pro Libertate||

    What's particularly stunning is that he's talking about expanding the government bureaucracy when the discussion of the moment is whether we can cut any spending.

    This administration can't leave soon enough for me. Just horrible.

  • Tim||

    Ministry of Plenty

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Logo includes an overflowing cornucopia

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Let us update the logo - make it a cash stuffed envelop or a campaign contribution check?

  • Pro Libertate||

    It's a perpetual motion machine.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Obama is soooooooo awful.

    Department of Business?

    Obama's job won't be done until we're all working for the government.

  • Ken Shultz||

    P.S. Vote for Romney.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    You seem to have mentioned this before.

  • T o n y||

    Because corporate welfare for oil and coal is better than corporate welfare for solar and wind.

  • Paul.||

    Both are awful! Vote Gay Jay!

  • Pro Libertate||


  • LTC(ret) John||

    The only Libertarian on my ballot :( - here on an island of RED (Kane County)in the deep BLUE sea(Illinois).

  • Pro Libertate||

    There were hardly any LPers on my ballot this time, which was surprising. Florida usually has a few (besides for president).

  • Dweebston||

    We prefer the cronies of old to Obama's nouveau cronies.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Department of Business.

    Think about it.

    Has Romney proposed a Secretary of Business?

    Seriously guys, there are different magnitudes of awful.

    No, Romney isn't a libertarian. But he's nowhere near as bad as Obama.

    Romney may be a statist, but he isn't entirely hostile to capitalism. Obama can't even imagine economic growth that doesn't involve an expansion of government.

    Just because they're similar in that neither of them are libertarian capitalists does not mean they're just as bad as each other.

    One isn't very good.

    The other is entirely awful.

  • califernian||

    how about corporate welfare for giant banks.

  • The Hammer||

    Because lowering a company's tax burden is marginally better than actually sending them a suitcase full of cash.

  • Rasilio||

    And corporate welfare for both is what Obama is shooting for here.

  • BakedPenguin||


  • Ken Shultz||

    Now that's going too far!

  • ||

    That's totally disingenuous Ken. Being on the dole is a perfectly reasonable option to being employed by the state.

  • Dweebston||

    I wonder to what extent the regulatory arbitrage created by choosing from between several marginally overlapping agencies has ahelped slow the regulatory creep... from what little I've read, I get the sense that agencies compete somewhat to secure their "client" regulatees.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I don't know why, but I was actually surprised when I first heard of this idiocy.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    What the president is proposing is one central regulatory authority to which businesses can deal with for all issues


  • Pro Libertate||

    See? Simplify! Really, I don't know why his slogan isn't "Make it Simple" instead of "Forward."

  • NeonCat||

    "Make it simply forward"

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Awesome idea. Businesses are overburdened by regulation, so the solution is to create a new regulatory agency that will need thousands of new regulations. That's just the kind of economic brilliance I've come to expect from Obama and his administration.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    I thought all the existing federal departments were ALREADY departmemnts of cronyism.

  • ||

    Bombing for peace, fucking for virginity, a dept. of business for business...

  • AdamJ||

    Is Wesley Mauch going to head up this department?

  • Ken Shultz||

    I bet he has Elizabeth Warren in mind!

    She got passed over to head the Orwellian named Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and this would be even better...

    Should she lose to Brown.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I'm surprised the Democrats don't replace her with Elizabeth Ward Gracen. Attractive, relatively well-known, connected to the Clintons. Oh, and immortal.

  • Admiral||

    That is exactly what I thought when I read this. Ayn Rand is vomiting in her grave...


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