The High Price of Republican Hypocrisy

Crony capitalism, big government boondoggles, and other GOP failures


Republicans are hypocrites about sex, it is sometimes said, and Democrats are hypocrites about money. It is true that GOP politicians keep getting caught with their pants down, while limousine liberals are free with other people's money and misers with their own. But this is not the whole story. Republicans are hypocrites about both sex and money.

Take the recent Newsweek story on "The Tea Party Pork Binge." The only time GOP politicians stop criticizing government handouts, it seems, is to ask for them. Which happens a lot.

The story leads off with Virginia's Eric Cantor, who sought billions for high-speed rail in the Old Dominion while he was blasting a similar project in Nevada. (Cantor's office told the mag the House majority leader has since changed his mind.) It's the same with Fred Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee. He's currently investigating the Energy Department's sweetheart loan guarantees to Solyndra. Two years ago, though, he was seeking millions from the department for projects in his home state of Michigan.

Newsweek isn't the first to plow this ground. The watchdog group Citizens Against Government Waste has detailed the more than $1 billion in earmarks sought by members of the so-called Tea Party caucus. South Carolina's Tim Scott sought $300 million for harbor dredging. Jon Runyan of New Jersey fought for federal beach-replenishment funds. The examples pile up to heights of ridiculous redundancy.

The Tea Party's proletariat is not pleased. "It's pretty disturbing," Judson Phillips, co-founder of Tea Party Nation, tells Newsweek.

But grounds for disillusionment don't end there. Republicans routinely utter shibboleths about the free market. Yet in practice they often substitute government's hand for the invisible one.

Take Rick Perry. He sings the praises of "the free-market enterprise [system] I grew up with." But in Texas, his Enterprise Fund and Emerging Technology Fund have shoveled nearly $650 million of the taxpayers' money into the pockets of private corporations, either by purchasing equity stakes or simply by giving companies cash to relocate. Conservative groups have called the programs "slush funds" and termed Perry "more pro-business than he is pro-free markets."

You could say the same about a lot of GOP governors, including Virginia's Bob McDonnell. This year he cut funds for public broadcasting, and was right to do so. But he also has ladled out lots of money from his Opportunity Fund to companies setting up shop in the Old Dominion. And he's happily giving millions to Steven Spielberg, who is shooting a Lincoln biopic here.

Yet even when he isn't using discretionary funds, McDonnell—like his predecessors—is quick to "announce" new jobs in press releases about any corporate relocations or expansions. The announcements imply, not very subtly, that the governor deserves credit for the jobs. Often that isn't really so; logistics, demographics and many other factors play a far bigger role in corporate decision-making than whatever ancillary help a company might get from the Department of Business Assistance. But "Governor McDonnell Announces 75 New Jobs in Yoknapatawpha County" makes it sound as if the tail is wagging the dog. (Funny how governors never "announce" job cuts, such as the 425 layoffs Smithfield disclosed yesterday.)

Laissez-faire is not the only GOP custom honored more in the breach than in the observance. Remember constitutional authority statements? Under the new House regime, bill sponsors were supposed to cite the relevant constitutional language granting Congress the power to do whatever the bill specified.

And none of that nonsense about the Commerce Clause or the General-Welfare Clause or the Necessary-and-Proper Clause. Conservatives argued, reasonably enough, that those clauses did not grant Congress the unlimited authority to regulate everything and to do whatever it thought was necessary and proper to promote the general welfare. If that were the case, then the Framers would not have bothered to enumerate Congress's specific powers in Article 1, Section 8. Nor would they have referred to "all legislative powers herein granted" in Section 1, which implies some legislative powers are withheld.

So what have Republicans been citing to justify bills on laser pointers, federal aid for veterinarians, charter schools, and more? The Commerce Clause. The General-Welfare Clause. The Necessary-and-Proper Clause.

You can draw several conclusions from all of this. You can view it as proof that, for all their distinction-drawing, Republicans and Democrats are not much different. Or that all politicians are just lying dogs who don't mean a word of what they say. Or that they do mean it, but that once in office they tend to "go native." Or (more charitably) that they are human like the rest of us, and pulled in different directions by competing imperatives.

In the pols' defense, one might recall Francois de La Rochefoucauld's maxim that hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. That it is. But it would be nice if more Republicans paid the tribute out of their own pockets, instead of ours.

A. Barton Hinkle is a columnist at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, where this article originally appeared.

NEXT: Rick Perry Excuses

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  1. Being Mercantilists, the Republicans are hardly friends of free markets.

    I should point out that the Wealth of Nations was an written as an attack on Mercantilism.

    1. Being city-Statists, the Libertarians are hardly friends of any freedom.

      1. ...and then calling that a free market without addressing the prison walls takes quite the studious ignorance.

        "The world of the Takers is one vast prison, and except for a handful of Leavers scattered across the world, the entire human race is now inside that prison."

        "Naturally a prison must have a prison industry. It helps to keep the inmates busy. It takes their minds off the boredom and futility of their lives. Our prison industry? Consuming the world."

        "It should be noted that what is crucial to your survival as a race is not the redistribution of power and wealth within the prison but rather the destruction of the prison itself."

        "The inmates of the Taker prison build the prison anew for themselves in every generation. When it's done, it'll be the work of all of you, men and women alike.

        "As long as the food remains under lock and key, the prison runs itself."

        excerpts from:
        Part 1: The Problem is Civilization
        A Condensation of Daniel Quinn Thought

          1. run up the score for him

              1. Washington
                New Jersey


  2. When you refer to the "general welfare" clause you are really referring to the taxing clause. General welfare and common defense are the things that are supposed to define the object, taxing, not be the objects, which turns the taxing clause into the spending clause.

    The Congress shall have PowerTo lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts andExcises, to pay the Debts and provide for thecommon Defence and general Welfare of the United States;but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniformthroughout the United States

    The big government lovers (virtually all of them) have claimed that rather than this clause being limited by just what the taxes are to be used for, have claimed that it is a directive to spend for the general welfare

    1. Bread/Circus = compensation for the rich taking most of the wealth via Privation Property.

      No bread/circus, no privation property.

      Payoff to the victims. It's that simple.

    2. What?

      "The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes to provide for the general welfare."

      "Provide for" = spending

      Not sure what your argument is. The constitution is a big government document.

      1. Provide for = make available, furnish.

        Go learn a little something before making moronic comments.

        1. Obviously there will be spending, that's why there is power to tax, but the spending is limited to those powers enumerated to provide for general welfare and common defense.

          It's actually not a big government document, were it adhered to the contact between the federal government and the people would be almost nothing, and the tax impact would far less also. You want to argue for libertopia, fine, that's a great ideal, but considering the intransigency of human nature, that's not going happen without a long, arduous process to get there. In the meantime as a meeting point to get to something a lot better than what we have, I'll argue for constitutionalism.

          1. Constitution Ghost Dance,
            Conjuring the Golden Past.

            Good luck with that.

            Hey, one good thing:

            Now you know what it feels like.

          2. Anarchist to libertarian/constitutional conservative: I don't know wtf people complain about when you guys want strict adherence to the Constitution.

            Sure the Constitution grants too much power even adhered to strictly, but it's a step in the right direction to at least get back to that.

            If we ever get the Constitution back then be sure I'll try to convince you maybe smaller is still the way to go. Maybe you'll even agree.

            Till then, we're on the same side and I wish more anarchists* would pull their heads out of their ass and understand that.

            *(not state-archists, they are just reds)

  3. So basically, there's no real difference between TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE. Wow, that's a shocker.

    1. So basically, there's no real difference between TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE and TEAM LIBERTARIANS. Wow, that's a shocker.

      1. Starting to ramp up the manic, rectal?

        1. Vanish, Joker, most ricky-tick, and take Rafterman with you.

            1. I don't know, I liked the Full Metal Jacket reference.

    2. I disagree:

      Team Blue's 5% Titanium tax goes too far.

      Team Red's 5% Titanium tax does not go too far enough.

      1. Taxes are the price we pay for civilization. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

        1. We have seen more than once that the public welfare may call upon the best citizens for their lives. It would be strange if it could not call upon those who already sap the strength of the State for these lesser sacrifices, often not felt to be such by those concerned, in order to prevent our being swamped with incompetence. It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting the Fallopian tubes. Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

          ~Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., smug eugenics thug and power worshipper

          1. Libertarians are big-government GAMBOL LOCKDOWN worshipers.

            1. +1 to wef
              +1/3 to tarran

        2. "It is high treason to pay taxes. Refusal to pay taxes is the primary duty of the citizen!" ~ Karl Marx

    3. Well, TEAM RED seems to have a bit more restraint about stealing money via taxes to fund largely unproductive activities than TEAM BLUE -- the government didn't have chronic trillion dollar deficits until TEAM BLUE took over the White House and part of Congress.

      So, hyperbole on Epi's part, but I agree with the core truth that TEAM RED is not at all fiscally conservative, just somewhat less bad about it than the other side of the Republicrat One Party system.

  4. The pro business vs. market is an important distinction that is lost a many conservatives. I have conservative family members who can't understand why I, as a libertarian, don't love Romney because he's so "pro business".

    1. There never has been a "free market," right?

      It's like explaining animated corpses to people.

      Maybe you should say the free market is like Zombie Jesus. And will come to save us all real soon now.

      1. Don't mind WI everyone. He's just here to piss on another thread.

        1. ...on Pallas!


          Oh, shucks, it's a libertarian science fiction (am I being redundant?) novel. (doubly redundant? again, apologies)

        2. Methinks if WI had their way, a lot of us would be gamboling to the ovens and gas chambers.

      2. Officer, am I free to gambol in my pants?

  5. (Yes, this is a re-post. For those who haven't seen this, I'd like to get the word out.)

    Regarding White Indian.

    We are libertarians and for the most part believe people can solve problems by themselves with minimal authority/rules. We constantly claim that people will band together to act in their own best interests. Here is an idea...let's prove it.

    Instead of pushing for moderators or registration... let's treat this WI situation as a libertarian experiment. Let's stand by our libertarian ideals and solve the problem on our own. Let's ALL agree to NOT interact with WI at all. Would you post all day, every day if no one would respond to you? I doubt it.

    Let's all agree to NOT FEED THE TROLL!

    Problem a libertarian manner.

    1. ...feeds the Non-State, pro-freedom, troll. (Gotta love how Non-state, pro-freedom is somehow "trolling" here.)

      Anyway, city-STATIST Libertarians can't help saying stoopid stuff, so let the festivities begin.

      1. +1 to Francisco d Anconia

    2. While I agree with you, it doesn't matter if people feed it since it feeds itself. Bipolar nutcases in a manic phase need no prodding to be fucking insane.

      1. Da, tovarisch, Commissar Episiarchski will help you to think correctly.

        1. +1 to Episiarch

          +1/3 to Francisco d Anconia

      2. Epi, the question is, does Rather hate you enough to get us to buy you a free beer? (see contest below) 😉


          1. +3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146951941511609...

            1. Had a roommate in college who memorized pi to 50 digits. Chick magnet!

    3. Yep. It essentially blathers some argument, as on the OWS thread today, and then repeatedly answers itself or, when successfully ignored, answers legitimate replies with the same stupid quotes, etc., never even bothering to write something relevant.

      1. LOL

        1. +1 to Metazoan

          +1/3 to Francisco d Anconia

    4. I propose an email bomb to all our reason overlords. You don't even need to write anything in the email. Simply put 'BAN WI' as the subject.

      1. Not very libertarian.

        1. It's perfectly libertarian. They are the property owners. If they decide to ban someone, for whatever reason, they have every right to.

          The whole "it's not libertarian to ban rectal" meme is an idiotic meme started by her herself, and one that she constantly harps on. It's as dumb as she is.

          1. ...the main thrust being the shutting up of dissent.

          2. The website administrator bans spam. It bans links to porn sites, even when relevant to the discussion at hand. They could ban a handful of IP addresses for being, in effect, spam, if that wanted without being unlibertarian, because it's their web site and they are free to make it a pleasant place to visit.

            But, yeah, feeding the trolls will make them more active, so don't fucking do it.

          3. What Episiarch said. Managing your own property as you see fit is the essence of libertarianism.

            1. ...political dissent is the essence of libertarianism.

        2. Sure it is.

          Libertarianism: Marxism of the Right
          The American Conservative

          Google it, because Reason has banned itl. LOLOLOLOLOLOL

          1. +1 Francisco

          2. -5 internets

      2. Libertarianism finally becomes a parody of itself.

        Or of communism.

        They're all pretty much the same.

        The American Conservative -- Marxism of the Right

  6. Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave.

  7. Do Democrats endlessly gripe that we're spending too much money while doling out all the pork they can get their hands on? Oh, so it's just the Republicans who are hypocrites here.

    1. Except telling you to eat shit and die in a coal fire, there's no much else anybody can say that hasn't already been said on the matter. You're hopeless.

      Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave.

    2. This is true to some extent on economic issues. Democrats do promise to tax your income away and throw it at their friends (hey it helps the economy!). It's in the department of civil liberties that Democrats display their true colors of hypocrisy.

    3. No, they endlessly gripe about spending too much money on special interests and big business while doling out pork to the same. Don't see too much difference.

    4. They bitched a lot when Bush was running deficits around $400 billion.

      1. Why didn't the Tea Party exist before it existed?

        Fuck the rich!

  8. I propose a friendly contest, who can garner the most Rather responses to their posts.

    The contest is scored as follows:
    1) Each response by rather gives 1/n points to parent posts where n = the number of levels above the rather comment the parent post resides. For example, my first comment currently has Rather posting a response, then responding to herself. The points are 1/1 + 1/2 for a total score of 1.5.

    The person with the most points, being the pathetic victim of the most vile noxious harassment I can think of, will be entitled to one free beer courtesy of the less pathetic members of our august community.

    Who is game?

    1. Sounds like fun.

    2. Yeah, let's do it. Because I'm guaranteed to win, bitches.

    3. So do you have the time to keep score, tarran? We need running totals, BECAUSE I AM GOING TO WIN.

      1. It's going to get too hard to score when the weekend thread gets past 2000, too.

      2. I'll need help. I don't know if I can do the whole thread without being fired.

        How about people do their own child nodes.

        1. We should convince Amadukari to add a scoring module into reasonable.

          1. Yes. Any post that has "city-state" in it following someone's regular handle scores a point.

    4. Sounds like fun. I'll play.

    5. Is it only this thread?

      1. Of course not! All threads!

    6. OK, I've created the first semiautomated score counting tool, and the totals are as follows:

      Poster Totals
      Episiarch 3.25
      tarran 3.1666666667
      MWG 2.3333333333
      Francisco d' Anconia 1.6666666667
      Len 1
      Metazoan 1
      wef 1

      1. Banjos is coming up mighty fast, dude.

        1. Actually, something just got dumped on my lap. I'll need someone else to do the scoring.

          1. I can't. I can barely drop in here as it is.

          2. Actually, something just got dumped on my lap.

            I can't decide if that's really good, or really bad.

            Details? Pix?

    7. Is there an alternative to the winner if s/he happens to be a teetotaler?

      1. Give me the beer and I will let you keep the bottle as a trophy.

        1. Pizza. Duh!

    8. You know, we were doing pretty well for a few days. Why can't you morons just stop engaging her.

  9. I don't guys, I might be some decent competition. Rather gets especially pissed off when a female makes fun of her. She takes it personally and feels betrayed. It is really funny to watch.

    1. pissing off
      making fun
      of females.


      1. +1 Banjos plus another +1 for really annoying rectal.

        Think you can give me a run for the win, Banjos? IT'S ON

    2. Women should take care of their husbands and raise babies, and every woman who disagrees is too fat and ugly to get a man.

      1. Another +1 Banjos. God damn it.

      2. +1 to banjos?

        1. 100 Quatloos on Banjos!

  10. So, politicians, even those with presumably the best of intentions, become corrupted by Washington. Is this supposed to be news?

    1. Nope. It's just the nature of those who aspire to political power.

  11. old fool, before you get it shot off.

    -Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. to Abraham Lincoln

    1. Who gets this point? Hinkle? No, it's up for grabs.

      +1 me

  12. Hm, I'm trying to figure out how many points I got from my Lemony Snicket post at the Peter Schiff thread. If I responded to someone, (as a part of my parent-comment) then got spammed again by rather, is the second one a +1 or a +1/3? Or both? 😀

    1. That's an interesting question. I would argue that it is a 1 + 1/3 actually:

      You (3), Interlocutor (2), You(1), Rather becomes

      You 1 + 1/3
      Interlocutor 1/2

  13. I have been told by my "conservative" associates that a piece of burnt toast could beat Obama in 2012. I remind them that unfortunately a piece of burnt toast isn't running.

    1. Obama might lose despite running essentially unopposed. That is how low this race might sink.

  14. Hey rectal, I noticed my boyfriend has been really tense, stressed, and moody lately. I have been looking for new ways to help him relax, any suggestions?

      1. ...well, you know how that goes.

        1. +1 tarran

  15. Republicans also shine with hypocrisy when it comes to immigration, promoting individual rights rhetorically in supposed contrast to Obama while believing that non-citizens or suspected terror agents don't have these natural rights.

  16. Women should take care of their husbands and raise babies, and every woman who disagrees is too fat and ugly to get a man.

    Oh sweetie, don't stress about how fat and ugly you are, it might give you wrinkles and make you even uglier.

    1. I'm going to do the honorable thing and concede the win to you right now. Congratulations.

    2. Excellent. There's a good reason why the Soviets used female snipers.

    3. ...on animals. And women.

      1. Another +1 to Banjos.

  17. BTW I just claimed 3.5 over at the organ sale post.

  18. And that boys is how it is done!

    *sharply turns around and saunters out of room with hips swaying*

    1. Better head over to the organ sale thread, where Epi is claiming additional free points. It should be noted that I got at leas 4.75 out of that.

    2. Banjo,

      I guess we owe you a beer! If you are ever in Boston, I will be happy to redeem that debt.

  19. Hey Barton Finkle: News Flash

    All politicians are crony capitalists, including those liberals who so contort so strenuously to accuse Republicans even while shoveling massive amounts of public cash to their major campaign donors (that would be YOU, President Obambi).

    Why again the double standard? Because liberals never pretend to be for the little guy? What a crock of shit this piece was.

  20. It's disheartening that a magazine called "Reason" (and mostly lives up to its name) has a comment section where approximately 95% of the comments are by folks who appear to have lost their reason.

    Half of the time, I can't even figure out what they're saying - and when I can, it doesn't make any sense.

    Trying to scroll through to find the 5% that actually have something to say just isn't worth it anymore.

    If only one of them would start a blog where they can all go and happily bicker incoherently.

      1. Illustrates my point perfectly.

        1. You're not hip to what *drink* means, are you?

  21. Both Republicans and Democrats become more liberal when elected. But the average Republican voter is still more fiscally conservative than the average Democrat. So Republican voters usually get the shaft.

  22. No matter what the goverment's purpose is, we should live all the time.

  23. Yes, the Democrats are beyond reproach. Obviously, you haven't been reading the papers or listening to the news. Take your outstretched index finger and point it toward your chest, Hinkle, or Obama's chest or Pelosi, Reid, whoever the Democrat du jour is.

  24. Fantastic goods from you, man. I've understand your stuff previous to and you're just extremely wonderful. I actually like what you have acquired here, certainly like what you are stating and the way in which you say it. You make it enjoyable and you still take care of to keep it wise. I can not wait to read much more from you. This is really a great website.

  25. So the Democratically controlled Federal government decides to spend billions on high speed rail.
    So they guy is a hypocrite for trying to get some of that gravy train?
    The Federal Government decides to give out Billions for infrastructure stimulus.
    Does this mean the guys is a hypocrite if he takes the money that will better his state?
    I think one Governor actually turned down the infrastructure money.
    I don't think his constituents were very happy.
    So if you are a small government Republican, does this mean you can never try to get money that is already marked for spending?
    I think this is a great way to lose your state base and be seen as ineffective....
    While I so think high speed rail is a boondoggle, since when is infrastructure "pork". Bridges and roads are not pork.
    Granted, I would like to see Tea Party supported politicians take a harder line. But in the end if their constituents feel he/she is not "bringing home the bacon", they may not have the job......
    They have to at least act like they are trying to get the money.
    The original article was a hit job, and so is this.

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