"GOP field takes aim at crony capitalism—finally"


I, me, me, lt

That's the headline on this piece from your lead reporter on the crony capitalism beat, the Washington Times' Timothy P. Carney. Excerpt:

Although the Republicans' professed belief in free markets would imply a rejection of corporate welfare, GOP cries of "crony capitalism" and critiques of subsidy sucklers and regulatory robber barons usually come only from the party's back bench. It's striking, then, to hear this talk from prominent Republicans on center stage at a presidential debate.

It's part of a small but growing trend toward free-market populism in Republican rhetoric, if not action.

When [Newt] Gingrich called out General Electric by name for profiting from special tax breaks and green subsidies, he was expressing a growing conservative distaste for GE, which has visibly embraced President Obama's subsidize-and-regulate economic policy. On everything from climate change and windmills to health care and embryonic stem cells, CEO Jeffrey Immelt has positioned GE to profit from big government, often lending the company's unmatched lobbying clout to the administration's efforts.

Obama's pick of Immelt as jobs czar was a fitting symbol of the symbiotic relationship between the industrial giant and Obama's agenda.

[Michele] Bachmann, meanwhile, steered the discussion of Perry's 2007 unilateral mandate of an HPV vaccine to the question of cronyism, benefitting drugmaker Merck. "We cannot forget that in the midst of this executive order there is a big drug company that made millions of dollars because of this mandate."

Bachmann went on, about sounding like a populist: "The governor's former chief of staff was the chief lobbyist for this drug company. The drug company gave thousands of dollars in political donations to the governor, and this is just flat-out wrong."

A week earlier in Iowa, Sarah Palin also attacked "crony corporate capitalism."

Whole thing here; link via Instapundit.