Will 2012 be about Obama's corporate cronyism?

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Timothy P. Carney

President Obama increased government's role in the economy, and the benefits went to big and politically connected businesses, while the tab went to taxpayers. That could be a central theme of the GOP's attacks on Obama this election, if my colleague Conn Carroll is correct.

Carroll writes that the above Romney ad is an indication that "previews how Romney will make the case that it is the Obama economy that is unfair."

There's certainly evidence to bolster that notion. Many of the outside groups, like Americans for Prosperity are honing in on this theme. AFP has cut an ad basically attacking Obama for his support for the Export-Import Bank, a subsidy organization he previously denounced as "little more than a fund for corporate welfare."

But there are plenty of reasons to think Romney and the RNC will not drill down on corporatism or cronyism.

For one thing, talking about corporate welfare makes K Street and the Chamber of Commerce uncomfortable, and Romney is very close to both, and the GOP need some support from those corners.

Second, Romney's not innocent on this front. I've written about his support for the Wall Street Bailout, individual mandates, and state corporate-welfare funds, showing a managerial, technocratic, attraction to government steering of the economy.

Even on questions of energy policies, Romney lacks some credibility in knocking government support for business -- he was advocating an active federal role in energy during the 2008 campaign.

Of course, past positions don't seem to hinder Romney too much, so maybe he will go all anti-corporate-welfare on Obama. Or maybe, he'll just argue that Romney would have spent taxpayer money on more successful private undertakings.

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