Socialists and libertarians make bad lobbyists 

Evan Bayh and Bob Bennett are natural fits on K Street, I wrote in my Thursday column, in part because of their being "pragmatic" and "moderates." I wanted to comment a bit more on the dynamic here.

One reason "moderates" make better lobbyists is the very fact that they often don't operate according to political principles. Their "pragmatism" leaves them open to taking a whole variety of courses and accepting a range of consequences if it gets them what they want. This doesn't mean they're not eyeing the public good -- it just means that they don't heed many roadblocks on the path to what they think is best.

But in American politics, we can drill deeper, and say that the specifics of the two views of government's role in the economy occupying the ends of the spectrum -- libertarianism and socialism -- both displease corporate America.

While Thomas Frank would tell you that libertarianism is the dream of big business and lobbyists, Thomas Frank would be wrong. Less spending, as we see these days, hardly pleases K Street or Big Business. Remember, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce supported the stimulus package and Cash for Clunkers.

Lower taxes please Big Business, but usually they prefer targeted tax breaks. If you had low, flat, taxes with few or no exemptions, deductions, or credits, many big businesses would suffer.

Bailouts and handouts and export subsidies -- I don't even need to talk about these.

On regulation, Big Business is a mixed bag. I've written volumes on this.

While I'm always railing about Big Business wanting Big Government, though, I also need to note that the real lefties -- the hardcore liberals who border on or embrace socialism -- aren't exactly friends of corporate America, either. Wall Street wants to be bailed out, not wiped out. Pharma loves Obamacare, but wouldn't be so keen on single-payer. GE and crew want Cap-and-Trade, but a big ol' carbon tax rubs most of them the wrong way.

There's more to say about lobbying itself, but just on the score of pleasing Big Business, you can see why the guys in the middle have better prospects to cash out.

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Timothy P. Carney

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