Last night, President-Elect Donald Trump toured the Carrier factory in Indiana and bragged that he had used the power of the federal government to leverage the company into keeping jobs in the United States.
To recount from yesterday, here were the basic details of the deal: Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, who is also Governor of Indiana, offered $7 million in tax breaks to Carrier. They turned it down originally, since it would cost them $65 million to keep the jobs in Indiana. What changed their mind? Trump reportedly threatened the withdrawal of federal defense contracts from Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, which has $6.7 billion in business with the feds. Trump also threatened to increase tariffs on companies reimporting product after shipping jobs out of the country.
Trump bragged about this small dose of economic fascism while visiting Carrier. “This is the way it’s going to be,” he said. “Corporate America is going to have to understand that we have to take care of our workers also.” He added, “I don’t want them moving out of the country without consequences.” Mike Pence, supposed voice of conservatism, piped up, “The free market has been sorting it out and America’s been losing. Every time, every time.”
If you oppose this, you’re a cuck.
It turns out that if you don’t like the notion of a president-elect threatening private companies with withdrawal of public contracts – which, by the way, would involve utilization of more taxpayer dollars; or a president-elect threatening companies with tariffs for the great sin of moving jobs offshore in order to compete to provide consumers with the best products at the lowest prices; or a vice president-elect leveraging state resources to bribe a company so that the president-elect can take credit for saving jobs…this makes you a leftist.
Opposing FDR’s New Deal was apparently now leftist.
Opposing Bernie Sanders’ trade policy is now apparently leftist.
Opposing Barack Obama’s use of federal contracts to leverage private companies is now apparently leftist.
Oh, how times have changed.
I’m old enough to remember when former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin railed against crony capitalism (“It’s not the capitalism of free men and free markets, of innovation and hard work and ethics, of sacrifice and of risk. No, this is the capitalism of connections and government bailouts and handouts…and influence peddling and corporate welfare” – Palin, September 2011). I’m old enough to remember when Ann Coulter wrote, “Democrats’ crony capitalism is the worst of both worlds: risk-taking without any real risk. It’s like gambling with your rich daddy’s money, except we taxpayers are the rich daddy.” I’m old enough to have worked for new White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon when he made documentaries about Washington D.C. as a “Boomtown” and a “District of Corruption” and complained about government involvement in the economy. Now he pledges trillion dollar spending packages and claps while Trump threatens companies for operating along free market principles. And I’m old enough to remember when Sean Hannity hosted such documentaries (“So, can we anticipate cronyism and corruption until 2016?” Hannity asked Bannon in November 2012. Bannon answered, “I think Washington became an imperial city”).
This is hypocrisy of the highest order. And it’s evidence that a soul-suck has already taken place inside the Republican Party. Yes, other presidents have engaged in this sort of economic tyranny. Those presidents include Republicans like George W. Bush. But conservatives opposed Bush’s steel tariffs – and they certainly didn’t castigate other conservatives for opposing them, or whitewash protectionism. We’ll see whether conservatives begin to grow a spine now that Hillary Clinton is out of the way. But the early evidence isn’t particularly promising.
UPDATE: Good for Palin. She’s criticizing this crony capitalist nonsense:
[K]now that fundamentally, political intrusion using a stick or carrot to bribe or force one individual business to do what politicians insist, versus establishing policy incentivizing our ENTIRE ethical economic engine to roar back to life, isn’t the answer. Cajole only chosen ones on Main St or Wall St and watch lines stretch from Washington to Alaska full of businesses threatening to bail unless taxpayers pony up. The lines strangle competition and really, really, dispiritingly screw with workers’ lives. It’s beyond unacceptable, so let’s anticipate equal incentivizes and positive reform all across the field – to make the economy great again.