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EDITORIAL: Obama’s crony capitalism

Friends of the president are given billions in government largesse

- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 26, 2012

President Obama said in his State of the Union address that one of the American values that must be reclaimed is "an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules." For three years, he and his political allies have been undermining this vision. They see government as a means of rewarding their friends and punishing their enemies. For the Obama circle, rules apply only to other people.

Obamacare is a growing burden to American businesses, but not if you have friends in high places. Mr. Obama's signature and highly unpopular legislative achievement was sold as a measure that would require shared sacrifice but bring lasting benefits to all Americans. Yet as soon as the law was implemented, hundreds of waivers were issued that allowed the recipients to duck under Obamacare requirements. The vast majority of recipients were labor-union chapters, large corporations, financial firms and local governments with strong Democratic connections. One in 5 waivers issued in April 2011 went to upscale nightclubs, bars and hotels in Rep. Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco district. Mr. Obama is not even covered by his own law.

In his speech, Mr. Obama made the case for bigger government energy programs, claiming "government support is critical in helping businesses get new energy ideas off the ground." It certainly helps if you have given money to the Obama campaign. A CBS News investigation found that 80 percent of the $20.5 billion in Energy Department loans for "green" energy went to Mr. Obama's top donors. The half-billion-dollar government loan guarantee to the bankrupt solar-panel company Solyndra is a model of Obama-style crony capitalism.

At the center of this sweetheart deal was oil billionaire and major Obama backer George Kaiser, whose family-foundation investment fund was a major stakeholder in Solyndra. The loan was rushed through despite warning flags that it was a risky investment. When failing Solyndra sought to restructure the loan, investors such as Mr. Kaiser were put ahead of taxpayers for recouping their investments. But unlike this insider, most taxpayers don't enjoy "intoxicating" two-hour dinners in Las Vegas with Mr. Obama to discuss energy policy.

During the 2008 campaign, Mr. Obama promised to "end the abuse of no-bid contracts once and for all." Don't tell that to his friends. In May 2011, the pharmaceutical firm Siga Technologies, headed by Obama intimate Ronald Perelman, received a $443 million sole-source, no-bid, no-questions-asked government contract for an unnecessary anti-smallpox pill. Siga previously had been awarded a $3 billion contract after placing former Service Employees International Union boss and frequent White House visitor Andy Stern on its board.

Never in modern history has the U.S. government been used so extensively as a vehicle for benefiting political cronies at the expense of the rest of us. In his speech, Mr. Obama said America shouldn't "settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by." Given this administration's rampant favoritism, special treatment and backroom deals, restoring fairness is a major argument against Mr. Obama's re-election.

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