Are Republicans becoming the anti-bailout party? 

With Democrats rolling out PhRMA-endorsed health-care reform, banker-endorsed credit-card regulation, porked-up climate legislation, and a financial reform that would institutionalize bailouts, I’ve thought the Republicans would have incentive to position themselves as the anti-corporate-welfare party.

Two more factors that could push the GOP towards a free-market populism: (1) The biggest industries are all giving more to Democrats than to Republicans; and (2) there’s a populist element to the Tea Party movement, which is where all the passion is these days.

Republicans haven’t grabbed onto this theme very much, though. This weekend, however, we got a nascent taste of it, in Rep. Kevin McCarthy’s response to Obama’s weekly address.

McCarthy attacked Democratic financial regulations because they would “guarantee permanent bailouts for Wall Street…. Hardworking American taxpayers would pick up the tab for the reckless decisions made by irresponsible bankers….”

Here’s how he described the GOP proposals:

“End the permanent bailout, and end the TARP…. No longer include using the taxpayer as Wall Street’s financial lifeline…. Putting taxpayers on the hook for more bailouts will not revive our struggling economy. It will only compound the pain for struggling small businesses.”

“Put an end to big government bailouts…”

Is this the beginning of a GOP free-market populism? Will anyone believe it, considering that most Republicans, including McCarthy, voted for TARP?

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