Mike Lee to GOP: Serious About Reform? Here’s Your Chance to Prove It

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) 100% has some advice for Republicans if they are serious about regaining popularity.  It boils down to being true to their word and upholding “principles we already espouse.”  One such principle is their stance against crony capitalism, which was singled out for condemnation for the first time in 2012 in the Republican party platform.

“Republicans have slammed all this ‘corporate welfare’ and ‘venture socialism’ for ‘unfairly picking winners in the marketplace’,” he recalls.   

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Tea Party Defines “New Republican”

A new project, led by longtime GOP strategist Alex Castellanos, is aimed at rebranding the Republican Party.  Announced today in Politico’s Playbook, NewRepublican.org will focus “on outlining a positive GOP agenda for the future.”  In an ad slated to run on Sunday shows, Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) says “If you don’t think the Republican Party should be the party of big government, big business or big anything, you’re thinking like a New Republican.”

If that message sounds familiar that’s because Heritage Action has been pounding it for years.  In October 2011, CEO Mike Needham and COO Tim Chapman wrote an op-ed for Real Clear Politics entitled “The Washington Establishment’s Big Problem.”  They explained:

The Bigs – Big Wall Street, Big Government, Big Labor, and Big Business – are all protected classes in the American political system. The tax code, regulatory regime, and campaign finance laws are all written by those powerful enough to hire an army of lobbyists to descend on Washington. Labor unions pushed their way ahead of bond holders when the Establishment bailed out Chrysler. Solyndra got venture funding from the middle class taxpayer after spending $1.9 million lobbying the Establishment. 

This corrupt nexus is at the heart of the dissatisfaction across the country towards Washington.

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U.S. Export-Import Bank: “A Publicly Subsidized Piggy Bank for Large Corporations”

What is the Export-Import Bank of the United States? Veronique de Rugy, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, nails it:

The Export-Import Bank is one of the least defensible corporatist boondoggles that taxpayers are forced to subsidize. This US government-owned corporation styles itself as a self-sustaining independent executive agency that selflessly serves the public by “support[ing] jobs in the United States,” “facilitating the export of US goods and services,” “provid[ing] competitive export financing,” and “ensur[ing] a level playing field for US exports in the global marketplace.” In reality, the Ex-Im Bank is little more than publicly subsidized piggy bank for large corporations, who retain private profits while transferring risk to taxpayers. (emphasis added)

The Bank’s risk transfers and market distortions are unjustifiable.  It’s political agendas and cronyism are even less so.

Export-Import Bank Quote

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How to Disrupt Washington’s Corrupt Nexus

Washington’s main priority is protecting and enriching Washington.  In my Foundry column this week, I write that one of the central challenges facing conservatives – and really all Americans – is how to disrupt the corrupt nexus of big government politicians and the special interests that enrich them:

Agree or disagree with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) 12% on policy — and let’s be clear, there is a lot to disagree with — the fact that he makes merit-based decisions, often to the frustration of the professional lobbying class in Washington, is a welcome change. 

By contrast, another Capitol Hill publication ran a story profiling which lobbyists and special interest groups would thrive if there was a minor shakeup within House Republican leadership. Phrases such as “number of downtown confidants” and “new significance to a number of players on K Street” punctuate the story. 

Nothing perpetuates the Washington Ruling Class — and America’s dissatisfaction with Washington — more than this corrupt nexus. The collusion between Washington’s power players does not breed contempt formed out of some deep-seated jealousy; rather, it stems from the very real sense that Washington’s priority is Washington.

Read the entire piece here.

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Cashing in on Connections

Washington Post editorial writer Charles Lane nails it:

A large number of Washington’s top earners fit into the less productive category. Many of them specialize in trading on their connections to D.C.’s biggest “industry,” the federal government. As of 2012, lobbying for tax breaks, contracts, exclusive licenses, subsidies and the like was a $3.3 billion-a-year industry, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

The average salary of the CEOs — chief lobbyists — of the 30 biggest industry trade associations, including incentives and deferred compensation, was $2.34 million in 2010, according to Bloomberg News.

More than a few of these people used to be governors, senators or members of the House, where they acquired the access that they now sell to the highest bidder. They are accompanied by a small army of former executive and legislative branch staffers who have gone through the revolving door from government to what Washingtonians euphemistically call “the private sector.”

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