Presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama decried Big Business on the stump and promised an end to politics as usual in Washington. Lobbyists for Big “Fill in the Blank” would no longer hold sway when Obama took over, he promised.
Flash forward a year or so, and Big Business and Big Government have teamed up in ways many didn’t think possible, according to a new book by Washington Examiner columnist Timothy Carney.
“Obamanomics” describes the fusion of the two, an alliance made possible in part by the media’s inability to see past its own narrative template and the new president‘s unwavering faith in government.
Instead of chasing lobbyists out of the nation’s capital, Obama has opened the floodgates on these Beltway denizens. And he’s getting away with it.
That’s music to the ears of Big Business types across the country who see Obamanomics as a way to squelch competition. It’s no wonder Obama the candidate raked in millions from the major business players during the campaign.
Former President George W. Bush started the ball rolling with the late 2008 Wall Street bailout — the “biggest dose of corporate socialism since World War II,” Carney writes. The author pulls no punches regarding the last White House occupant, although he isn’t sure Bush would have taken the economy in the direction Obama has.
The 2008 election set the template both for the media’s willingness to parrot the Democratic platform’s party line regarding Big Business and for Obama’s insincerity regarding his campaign promises.
Carney details just how much corporations gave to Obama’s campaign and how he went on to stock his administration with people like Tom Daschle, Rahm Emanuel and Bill Richardson — men “whose records blurred the line between politics and corporate America.“
While some media outlets refuse to cover the connections between Obama, Big Government and Big Business, MSNBC trots out analysts who twist reality into a Philadelphia-worthy pretzel. Such was the case during the health care debate earlier this year, when commentators like Keith Olbermann said Republicans were brought to us by campaign donations from the health sector.
Senators like Republican John Thune actually defeated his opponent in 2004, the aforementioned Daschle, despite health companies backing his Democratic foe dramatically, Carney explains.
That story writ large is partially responsible for the big myth regarding Obama’s rise to the presidency, one paid for by donations from an assortment of Big Business types, not the average Joe looking to have his voice heard at last.
The New York Times reported the stimulus deal passed earlier this year was shaped by the same corporations which would benefit from it. The legislation also impacted the corporate lobbyists, who are doing just fine, thank you, despite Obama’s ascension to the highest office in the land.
The stimulus “enriched lobbyists from nearly every industry,” he writes.
When the president announces new legislation meant to curtail how cigarettes can be marketed to the public, the media applaud the effort and claim it’s a blow to Big Tobacco. What reporters don’t share is that, in many cases, Big Businesses helped create and support such legislation.
Why? Because companies like Phillip Morris can cope with more regulation if it means its smaller competitors will be squeezed that much harder.
Obama’s takeover of GM and Chrysler, meant to salvage to two auto giants, came gift wrapped in good intentions. The auto companies must be saved, the administration cried, for fear of increases in welfare costs and unemployment.
“This corporate-safety-net thinking … ix exactly the mindset that puts the government at the service of Big Business,” he writes. And then man initially charged with overseeing the auto bailout — Steven Rattner — brought with him little car expertise but plenty of background in turning public policy into private profit.
The proposed cap and trade legislation meant to reduce Global Warming stands to make lobbyists even giddier should it pass, Carney warns.
Carney isn’t calling the new president corrupt. Instead, he’s warning Obama that “corporate-government intimacy is a breeding ground for scandal.”
Time and again Carney states his opposition to Obama’s legislative agenda without the sort of rancor one might expect from a critic of the new administration. He doesn’t think Obama is a socialist or someone who wants to harm the country. The president simply believes his approach is the right one. Meanwhile, major corporations see the benefits of Obamanomics — more regulation and less competition for their services.
So what happens next? Obamanomics details a step-by-step approach to defeat the principles set in motion over the last year, like banning future bailouts and earmarks. Carney realizes not every step is feasible. Some won’t be politically popular while others might not be enough to thwart the changes being made to our government.
But they show hope for a different kind of change still exists.
By Timothy P. Carney
1 December, 2009 Humanevents