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Monday, April 12, 2010

Free-market populism: Ron Paul says Obama's not 'socialist,' he's 'corporatist'

[Originally posted at Beltway Confidential]

Down at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, a parade of potential 2012 GOP nominees, plus some other rising stars have addressed what Washington Post blogger Dave Weigel calls "the Republican wing of the tea party movement."

Rep. Ron Paul used the occasion to educate the crowd about the true nature of Obama's economic agenda. The Wall Street Journal reports:

“In the technical sense, in the economic definition, he is not a socialist,” the Texas Republican said to a smattering of applause at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.

“He’s a corporatist,” Paul quickly added, meaning the president takes “care of corporations and corporations take over and run the country.”

Ron Paul is right. Obama has signed: a health-care bill that mandates we buy private insurance and has the endorsement of the drug industry; a tobacco regulation bill that earned the applause of the largest cigarette company in the country; a credit-card regulation bill that the banks like; a stimulus bill approved by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and nearly every lobby in the country; a Cash-for-Clunkers bill that subsidized automakers, car-dealers, and more. Also, Obama has a huge corporate lobby on his side for cap-and-trade legislation. Plus, Obama backed the Wall Street bailout, has stuck close to its main authors Ben Bernanke and Tim Geithner, and even expanded the bailout.

I could go on, but the point is not simply that Ron Paul is right about Obama being a corporatist, the relevant point is that a few Republicans are starting to sound the populist note of calling out Obama's closeness with Big Business.

In December, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) wrote an op-ed headlined "Down with Big Business."

Last week, in the Republican response to President Obama's weekly address, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) attacked Obama's financial regulation primarily because it would "guarantee permanent bailouts for Wall Street."

Ron Paul is also uniquely positioned to tap into the free-market populism notion. He's both the most free-market congressman, and the Chamber of Commerce's least-favorite Republican according to recent voting scorecards.

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