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Monday, July 11, 2011

Stealing a page from the Democrats' attack handbook

Timothy Carney recommends that Republicans fight back against the populist demagoguery of the Democrats by reversing attacks against the cozy corporate deals that Obama has supported.
So, on debt talks, if Obama can focus on tiny quirks in the tax code -- such as five-year depreciation for corporate jets as opposed to seven-year depreciation for commercial jets -- why don't Republicans declare war on corporate welfare, putting the president in the position of defending his Reverse-Robin Hood policies? Obama wants to soak the rich by raising their taxes? Why not soak big business by taking away their taxpayer-funded goodies?

Start with the handouts such as billions in direct grants, in the name of "green energy," to big, well-connected companies like Florida Power & Light. Then there are the green energy loan guarantees, also enriching revolving-door lobbyists and Big Business.

Along the same lines, Republicans could block this year's reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, a corporate-welfare agency that Obama has been steadily expanding. A majority of all of Ex-Im's loans and long-term guarantees subsidize Boeing sales. Banks love this agency, too, because it provides private profit and socialized risk.

Imagine Republicans running to protect taxpayers and reduce the debt by abolishing Ex-Im, while Obama stands with Boeing, GE and Halliburton in preserving this Fannie Mae for manufacturers.

Speaking of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Republicans should try to end those sinkholes. Let Obama, the Realtor lobby and the banks stick up for corporate welfare. Ending ethanol supports would be another no-brainer.

But it's not just handouts Republicans should target. Many regulations serve as gifts to Big Business and theft from small businesses and consumers. The individual mandate in health insurance is the most obvious example, but the Mattel-backed Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act -- a death sentence to small toymakers -- is one of many other regulatory robberies that a populism-fueled GOP would target.

Republicans could reshape the debt debate by showing that Big Government is often a way of protecting Big Business from competition and transferring wealth from ordinary taxpayers to whoever has the best lobbyist.
The GOP could remind voters that they were and are willing to attack those tax loopholes in exchange for lowering top tax rates. And they can remind voters that the Democrats are cozy with quite a few big businesses and interest groups and have been happily carving out handouts and regulations to those groups.

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