Going back to U.S. Steel and the railroads, the story of big business in America is often as not the story of fat cats rigging the system. And the story of progressivism is the same tale. The New Deal codes were mostly written by big business to squeeze out smaller competitors. The progressives fought for these reforms on the grounds that it’s easier to steer a few giant oxen than a thousand cats.
But health care is the most troubling example of the trend. Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson notes that while everyone has been debating the government takeover of health care, what’s really transpired is health care’s takeover of government — thanks to what he calls the “medical industrial complex.” Already one in four federal outlays are for health care; government pays, directly or indirectly, for half of all health-care costs; and the entire industry is heavily regulated. Obama’s answer to this state of affairs is more — much more — of the same, on the phantasmagorical grounds that it will cut costs.
My biggest objection is not to what isn’t true about the claim that the Right is the handmaiden to big business, it’s to what is true. Too many Republicans think being pro-business is the same as being pro-market. They defend the status quo against bad reforms and think they’ve defended economic freedom. The status quo stinks. And the sooner Republicans learn that, the sooner they’ll deserve to win again.
Amen. You would think that the TARP vote - passed with majority Democrat support in the face of opposition from conservatives and real progressives like Russ Feingold - would have been a clue. The Democrats spend their days bitching about big banks and "greedy" traders, but then went scurrying to make sure those same banks and traders wouldn't lose their shirts. It was a complete betrayal of the middle class that they claim to spend their every waking moment protecting.
The cliche' is that the Democratic Party is not the same as the party of Harry Truman. How true that is. When you look at the career of a Truman - war hero, humble roots, haberdashery, etc - and contrast that with someone like Barbara Boxer, you almost have to laugh. Of course, today's Dems still have some things in common with Harry. He came out of a corrupt urban political machine in the midwest, and nationalized the steel industry, both of which sound awfully familiar. But those are the parts of Truman's biography that people don't like to talk about. And now, they are all he has in common with today's potentates from the Party of the Common Man.