"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"

"The Official Portrait of Miss InDiana"
aka "Miss Victory"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Local activist attorney Paul Ogden's message to Republicans

Taxpayer Money is Not a Slush Fund for Big Corporations

As the McCain folks continue trash Sarah Palin in an attempt to blame her for their own shortfalls and a loss preordained by history, some Republicans are beginning the serious business of re-evaluating the future of the GOP.

Clearly the philosophy of the Republican Party has gotten off track. As I have mentioned in these pages before, it would be unwise if the blame lands on the backs of social conservatives. Indeed it has been the support of social conservatives who kept the GOP and Bush alive, well after the party's pulse was barely beating.

I chuckle at those Republicans who idiolize Barry Goldwater's economic conservatism and social liberalism as the model for the party. In 1964, Goldwater demonstrated that such a coalition is a definite minority when he lost in one of the worst landslides in presidential history. Let's not also forget that Goldwater, one of the few Republicans who voted against the Civil Rights of 1964, helped drive away African-American voters from the GOP. Goldwater is not this Republican's hero.

As I've pointed out here, the problem is not that Republicans lost majority support because it embraced social conservatism, but rather because the party lost the fiscal conservative voters who are the essential part of the Reagan coalition. Voters no longer see the GOP as the party of limited government and lower taxes. Republicans became the party of big government and lost fiscal conservatives in the process.

Once in power courtesy of the Reagan Revolution, Republicans set about using the tools of government to assist their supporters, big business. While in days of past, Republicans decried the Democrats for handing out government largess to the poor and working class, not coincidentally voters likely to vote for the Democrats, Republicans took taxpayer money and gave it to corporations. While the Democrats often are guilty of demagoguery, the charge that Republicans were for corporate welfare stuck, and rightfully so because it was true.

In days of past, Republicans fought for their business patron by standing for a competitive marketplace and lower taxes. Today, the headlines are that the Republican Treasury Secretary is reconsidering which corporations are going to receive taxpayer bailout money. On its deathbed, the Reagan Revolution spends its remaining days picking which corporations will be awarded for their failures with taxpayer money. Fortunately, Reagan, a true hero to Republicans, is not alive to see how far his heirs strayed from the principles for which he stood.

Today, corporate welfare takes many forms and exists as much on the local and state stage, as the national. As you drive around the city of Indianapolis, you see monuments of taxpayer money spent to help corporate interests. Two of the most prominent on the city's skyline are the Lucas Oil Stadium and Conseco Fieldhouse. Those buildings built by so-called public-private partnerships are simply ways of channeling taxpayer money to big corporate interests.

The cousin of public-private partnerships is privatization. Republicans in the 1980s and 1990s rightfully touted privatization on the very Republican principle of bringing market competition into the provision of public services. Then Republicans proceeded to forget those principles, privatizing services for which there only one or two vendors able to provide the service and then handing out long-term contract to those privatization vendors so they are shielded from competition. Worse yet, office-holders, undoubtedly blinded by the campaign contributions they received from these companies, fail to monitor the private company's compliance with the privatization contract. For example, we are having a crisis with privatized medical services in jails and prisons and nobody in government lifts a finger to make those vendors comply with their contracts or the law.

As the Republicans look to the future, they need to revisit the philosophical roots of the Reagan Revolution. Those roots were not about handing over taxpayer money to corporate patrons in a public-private partnership or a privatization deal. The philosophy was about keeping taxes low and fighting for a competitive marketplace for business. If Republicans continue to treat taxpayer money as a slush fund for corporate interests, they will continue to pay at the polls.

Note: See related post on privatization, including my rules for doing it correctly.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You are nuts. The R's had an anti gun, anti free speech, non pro life leader and not a conservative candidate. Catholics deserted, also, because 1, Republicans do harm to working folks in any manner they can think of 2, R's have learned how to kill off kids in useless wars, and 3, R's don't deliver on cultural or moral issues. The crowning irony is that the Republican National Committee is now SUING to overturn McCain's maverick finance campaign law that he got via Bush. Palin harms R's who were crooked, has kids who she really doesn't want in harm's way,and will deliver the talk she walks.