In my latest reading of Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future (copyright 2006), James Carville and Paul Begala talk about Republican corruption, as they go into the shenanigans of Jack Abramoff, Tom Delay, and others. Whereas I criticized Carville and Begala in my last post because I did not feel that they offered a specific enough strategy for the War on Terror, I have to give them credit that, in their chapter “Don’t Just ‘Clean Up’ Washington; Fumigate It”, they provide new ideas on how to separate Washington from the special interests.
I won’t go into their proposal in this post, however, but rather I will complain about how certain Republicans suppress competition, even though many of them love to shoot off their mouths about the free-market and how competition will supposedly solve our country’s problems.
In my latest reading, Carville and Begala give examples of Republicans attempting to suppress competition. There was Jack Abramoff’s strategy of using the religious right to pressure then Texas Attorney General (now Republican U.S. Senator) John Cornyn to put a Native American casino out of business, for the benefit of the Native American casinos that were Abramoff’s clients. There was Republican Congressman Roy Blunt’s insertion of a provision in a homeland security bill that would crack down on “contraband tobacco” and make selling tobacco over the Internet more difficult, thereby increasing Philip Morris’ profits. (According to Carville and Begala, House leaders got rid of this provision because they feared bad publicity.) And, on page 163, Carville and Begala discuss Republican Congressman Randy “Duke” Cunningham’s practice of getting MZM, Inc. government contracts.
I can add other examples. Allen Michael Collinge states in The Student Loan Scandal that Republicans opposed allowing other companies to buy someone’s student loans, thereby undermining competition and rendering the debtor subservient to Sallie Mae (see my post here). There were Halliburton’s no-bid contracts (which some justified by appealing to emergency wartime needs—-see here). There was Republican opposition to having a public option that would compete against private health insurance companies.
Libertarians have long argued that the government should not favor certain industries over others, and many Republicans echo libertarians on this when they critique the Obama Administration for picking winners and losers. Shouldn’t Republicans, therefore, be the first to oppose the influence of special interests on government policy, which has in many cases suppressed competition and benefited rich special interests? Unfortunately, you don’t see Republicans taking that kind of bold stand; rather, in my opinion, they have often been a part of the problem rather than part of the solution.