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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

When conservatives go gaga over Big Business

Last week, we saw an unpleasant flap regarding the American Conservative Union and a lobbying effort by FedEx. My column today rebuts some of the Politico's claims but shows how the story points to a deeper problem in the conservative movement and the GOP.

On health care, why are Republicans and conservatives most vehemently battling the government insurance plan and efforts at cost savings, rather than the bills’ tax increases, mandates on private citizens, and subsidies? Why did a recent conservative coalition letter opposing the bills omit opposition to taxpayer funding of abortion?

I suspect donor priorities become activists’ priorities. Of course conservative groups and politicians need to raise money, and Big Business has the big money. But there’s a problem: Big Business’ agenda often entails handouts and regulations that crowd out competitors — witness health care reform, cap and trade, the stimulus, and bailouts.

Is it coincidental that Republicans’ recent major transgressions against the free market — the Wall Street bailout and the Medicare prescription drug benefit — aided Big Business?

Conservative obeisance to business distracts the movement and sacrifices its principles. Even if this dynamic wasn’t behind the ACU-FedEx flap, conservatives should use the episode as inspiration to tell Big Business, “We’re with you as long as you’re for freedom, and we won’t let you set our priorities.”

Read the whole thing here.

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