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Beltway Confidential

Free-market doesn't mean pro-big business, and the New York Times is ON IT

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Beltway Confidential,Business,Timothy P. Carney,The New York Times,Free Market

When President Obama and Democrats rail about the flood of evil corporate money pouring in after the Citizens United ruling, and giving Republicans a huge advantage, the intended audience was the Democratic donor base — it was just an play to get liberals to open their wallets.

But it seems much of the liberal mainstream media fell for it, too.

When liberal scribes like Thomas Frank and Jane Mayer write that libertarianism and the Tea Parties advance a "pro-corporate agenda," I always assumed that was simply uncareful phrasing. But, again, it seems lots of people believed it.

Since 2008 there has been a barrage of counter-evidence to those willing to look closely. Wall Street favored Obama in 2008, as did much of big business. Obama's first big legislative accomplishment, the stimulus, had big-businesses stamp of approval. Obama's health-care law had the support of the drug lobby — the biggest single-industry lobby in the country — as well as the hospital lobby and the doctor lobby. These industries, and the insurers, have worked to help implement the law, winning over Obamacare-wary governors.

There was the birth of the Tea Party, in anger at bailouts. There was the series of K Street-vs-Tea Party GOP primaries where the business PACs backed the more moderate candidate and the Club for Growth and FreedomWorks backed the more conservative candidate (see Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Pat Toomey, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, for a few examples).

All of this evidence was out there, undermining the Obama narrative that it was him vs corporate conservatives. But Obama kept insisting on the narrative. It's finally become so preposterous. New York Times editorial page writer Eduardo Porter is shocked to notice that Obama's tale (and the New York Times' editorial page's tale) was false.

Porter writes on the growing rift between the business lobby and the conservatives:

The rift is not only unusual in light of the tight historical alignment between the business community and the G.O.P., but it is also outright incomprehensible after the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed companies to spend unlimited amounts from their corporate treasuries on the 2010 and 2012 elections.

Porter's piece is interesting and worth reading. But it's also worth noting what he never quite comes out and writes: Becoming more conservative means moving away from the policy agenda of big business.

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