Policy: Economy

Democrats talk like populists, govern like corporatists

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Timothy P. Carney,Democratic Party,The Washington Post,Economy,Elizabeth Warren,Sam Brownback,Export Import Bank

Liberal columnist EJ Dionne has noticed what he politely calls "tensions" between two Democratic themes this year: Populism and business boosterism.

Dionne quotes Sen. Elizabeth Warren bashing Wall Street, and then points out that Democrats are fighting to protect federal terrorism-risk reinsurance that Wall Street loves.

Dionne points to President Obama's populist attacks on Republicans and the wealthy, but then points out that Republican Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback has irritated Wall Street by cutting taxes.

Dionne points out that Democrats have unveiled a "Middle Class Jumpstart" messaging campaign but are trying to save the Export-Import Bank, which gives 75 percent of its subsidies to the five biggest exporters.

It's a good column by Dionne, and if you read it carefully, you notice a pattern. The Democrats' "populism" is always in rhetoric. Their corporatism is always in policy.

Democrats aren't juggling populism and corporatism. They're talking populism and doing corporatism.

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