Politics

Ex-Im Bank: Crony Capitalists on the Defensive

A chance to put a dent in the corporate state.

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Target practice.

It's increasingly plausible to think that Congress will refuse to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, one of the nation's most notorious spigots for corporate welfare. Killing it would put only a small dent in the corporate state, but it'll still be a real dent—a genuine victory in the battle against business subsidies.

Even if we end up losing this, it's fun to see the K Street crowd on the defensive, with figures from Bill Clinton to Rick Perry rushing to help preserve the program. The fact that many Republicans have not just joined but are suddenly leading the anti-bank chorus has the lobbyists flummoxed. (I especially enjoyed seeing the former head of the National Association of Manufacturers suggest today that "Conservatives in Congress can find other ways to express their ideology." Go get a hobby, boys!)

Does this struggle reflect a deeper strain of public cynicism about state-corporate cooperation? Maybe. Here's an intriguing Rasmussen poll from April:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 32% of American Adults believe the United States has a system of free market capitalism, while just as many (31%) say it is a system of crony capitalism. Slightly more (37%) are not sure what kind of capitalist system America has.

Sentiments like that have potentially combustible consequences.