Folks often think I'm joking when I call for a "free-market populism," but leading conservative Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., sounds exactly that note in his op-ed in Forbes, titled "Down with Big Business."
The problem today has escalated far beyond partisan politics. Big businesses' frenzied political dealings are not driven by party or ideology, but rather by zero-sum thinking in which their gain must come from a competitor's loss. Erecting barriers to competition is a key to maintaining advantage and market share. With Washington leading the way, it makes sense for the big boys to redirect their resources to their lobbying shop and government affairs office. They're far less interested in expanding the economic pie than with making certain that they get their slice.
Wall Street bailouts, global-warming subsidy suckling, drugmaker deals with Obamacare, automaker bailouts -- these are just the high-profile cases of Big Business-Big Government collusion. There are plenty others, too. Republicans have been handicapped in fighting this assault of Big Government, in part because they haven't gone after this aspect of regulations, mandates, taxes, and spending: Big Government is enriching those "special interests" Obama was supposed to drive from the temple.
Check the debate transcripts from the climate bill, the death-tax extension, and the health-care bill -- you won't find Republicans calling out the Democrats for passing bills that enrich GE, life insurers, and drugmakers. Perhaps this seems too uncouth for GOPers? Maybe Paul Ryan's battle cry will rally the free-market troops behind a flag of sticking up for the little guy.