Do Tea Partiers love bailouts and crony capitalism? 

In my estimation, the Wall Street Bailouts played a central role in stoking the Tea Party flames. David Brooks says something like that in his column, and liberal blogger Kevin Drum flips out. Here's Drum quoting Brooks and then reacting in disbelief:

But this passage really drew my attention:

The Tea Parties are right about the unholy alliance between business and government that is polluting the country. It’s time to drain the swamp by simplifying the tax code and streamlining the regulations businesses use to squash their smaller competitors.

Say what? Is Brooks seriously pretending that the motivating anger of the tea parties comes from the fact that government is too friendly to big business? The tea partiers hate Obama and they hate Obamacare, but they like big business just fine and so do their funders. If you're really looking for partners in a crusade to prevent government regulation from favoring the interests of existing business incumbents, you're more likely to find them in the radical lefty community than in the radical tea party community. Where does Brooks get this stuff?

Does Drum think that Tea Partiers prefer a complex, special-interest-rewarding, behavior-modifying tax code to a flat and simple one? Does Drum think that Tea Partiers cheer for regulations like the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, the tobacco regulation bill, and the employer mandate in health-care that Big Businesses support in order to crush smaller competitors?

I don't think Drum believes either of those things. I think the problem revolves around this imprecise phrase from Drum: whether "government is too friendly to big business."

Maybe Drum believes government-business friendship manifests itself as laissez-faire policy? In that case, he hasn't been paying attention to the stimulus, the TARP, and the Pharma-backed ObamaCare.

Otherwise, Drum is just making a flat assertion that crony capitalism doesn't bother Tea Partiers. Thats a nebulous enough claim that I guess I wouldn't be able to prove him wrong. But it's another example of growing liberal worry that their side might not be the populist side anymore....

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Timothy P. Carney

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