Earlier this month, I blogged about the appointment of William M. Daley as the new White House chief of staff, and urged everyone to tighten the grip on their wallets as the appointment stank of business-government collusion.
Timothy P. Carney put two and two together in his Examiner piece, following the appointment of another member of big-business to a key advisory role to the President: General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt is now chairman of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. I highly recommend that you read the whole article, but here are a few key points:
Immelt and Daley don’t represent a new side of Barack Obama — they represent the unhealthy collusion of Big Business and Big Government that has always been the essence of Obamanomics.
… In the 1990s, [Daley] ran Amalgamated Bank, owned by a union and described by the Chicago Sun-Times as “one of the city’s most politically connected financial institutions.” Bill’s brother, Mayor Richard Daley, kept the city’s money on deposit at Amalgamated. Later, Bill held a seat on Fannie Mae’s board, pocketing six-figure compensation from the government-sponsored enterprise that used a housing bubble and an implicit government guarantee to fill a slush fund for well-connected Democrats — until taxpayers bailed it out in 2008.
This is Obama’s kind of businessman: a banker who leverages his political connections for profit.
And Obama’s kind of corporation: GE, which marches in sync with government, pocketing subsidies, profiting from regulation, and lobbying for more of both.
Obama appeared on stage with Immelt in Schenectady, sounding more like a pitchman for GE stock than a head of state. The factory makes turbines, which Obama bragged GE would be selling to a power plant in Samalkot, India. That sale is no triumph of free trade — Obama’s Export-Import Bank is providing at least $400 million in subsidized financing to grease the skids. …
Sure enough, wherever Obama has led, GE has followed. Obama has championed cap and trade in greenhouse gasses, and GE has started a business dedicated to creating and trading greenhouse gas credits. As Obama expanded subsidies on embryonic stem cells, GE opened an embryonic stem-cell business. Obama pushed rail subsidies, and GE hired Linda Daschle — wife of Obama confidant Tom Daschle — as a rail lobbyist. GE, with its windmills, its high-tech batteries, its health care equipment, and its smart meters, was the biggest beneficiary of Obama’s stimulus.
To get these gears in sync isn’t cheap: The company has spent $65.7 million on lobbying during the Obama administration — more than any other company by far.
So much for Obama’s war on lobbyists.
Reporters are saying that President Obama’s SOTU address tonight will focus on American competitiveness: creating jobs, removing the most burdensome regulations on businesses, and increasing our nation’s investments in education, research and technology. When the President starts talking about jobs and competitiveness, think about whom he appointed as chairman to his Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, and you will know what policies to expect over the next two years. They will most likely fall under the general label of crony capitalism.
Such an economy in which businesses thrive, not because they use resources best and most efficiently, and thereby create the most value for their consumers, but because they are politically well connected, leaves all of us poorer and less free. This is not what Americans meant when they voted for jobs and economic growth this past midterm election.