Mitt Romney & Chris Christie: Pro-Business, Yes, But Pro-Market?


Earn 'em, don't give 'em away

Over at the Washington Examiner, Timothy P. Carney makes a crucial distinction that remains lost to too many Republicans (and their critics):

President Obama has thrown taxpayer money at General Motors and Chrysler, touted the bailout of Wall Street, extended $25 billion in export loan guarantees to Boeing, handed out billions in stimulus money to solar and wind companies, given $3 billion to car dealers and automakers through "cash for clunkers," and pushed through a health care law backed by the drug industry that forces Americans to buy private insurance.

But on Tuesday night Mitt Romney attacked Obama as anti-business. […]

"President Obama has been attacking successful businesses of every kind imaginable," was the heart of Romney's charge. Yes, Obama rants against "fat cats," and targets specific businesses and industries. But more often, the president has propped up businesses and subsidized industries. Romney has heard the tone of Obama's occasional populist rhetoric, but he has apparently missed the substance of Obama's embrace of corporate welfare. […]

A Republican who believes in free enterprise has a great opportunity, thanks to Obama's corporatism. Indeed, Romney could claim a populist mantel this election. But first Romney has to show that he understands the difference between being pro-free market and being pro-business.

Your next McCain-Palin?

One politician who clearly does not see the difference between pro-free market and pro-business is New Jersey Gov. and occasional vice presidential trial balloon Chris Christie. Here's today's New York Times:

Panasonic received $102.4 million in tax credits to move its headquarters nine miles within New Jersey. Goya Foods picked up $81.9 million in credits to build offices and a warehouse in Jersey City, two miles from its current complex. Prudential Insurance obtained $250.8 million to move a few blocks to a new tower in Newark.

Since taking office in 2010, Gov. Chris Christie has approved a record $1.57 billion in state tax breaks for dozens of New Jersey's largest companies after they pledged to add jobs. Mr. Christie has emphasized that these are prudent measures intended to help heal the state's economy, which lost more than 260,000 jobs in the recession. The companies often received the tax breaks after they threatened to move to New York or elsewhere. […]

Mr. Christie, who has portrayed himself as a fiscal conservative, has in particular used a new program, the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program, for the subsidies. The program, which is intended to encourage development around nine cities, offers tax credits equal to 100 percent of some capital investments. […]

Under the program, the Christie administration has granted more than $900 million in state tax credits over 10 years to 15 companies, including Panasonic, Goya, Prudential and Campbell's Soup. The companies have promised to add 2,364 jobs, or $387,537 in tax credits per job, over the next decade.

Whole thing here.

Classic Reason piece on the issue: Daniel McGraw, in January 2006: "Giving Away the Store to Get a Store."