- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 3, 2009



By Timothy P. Carney

Regnery, $27.95, 256 pages

Reviewed by A.G. Gancarski

By the time the Obama administration concludes in three - or perhaps seven - years, there assuredly will be no shortage of exposes of how the hope and change gang conducted business, enriching the connected at the expense of the people it purportedly serves. Nevertheless, what undoubtedly will prove to be one of the most accurate and unassailable exposes of the current president’s cronies has already appeared.

“Obamanomics,” the latest book by veteran Washington journalist and Robert D. Novak protege Timothy P. Carney, contends that the Obama administration, despite its populist pretensions, is deliberately transferring the wealth of ordinary Americans to the financial elite.

This is nothing new in the reckoning of Mr. Carney, who asserts that “just as President George W. Bush, with his bailouts, spending sprees, and new entitlements, abandoned the free market at the behest of Wall Street and drug makers, Barack Obama’s vision of bigger government is also the dream of corporate lobbyists.”

For economic conservatives, who have looked on with horror over the last decade as government has become progressively more centralized and omnipotent, this book will serve as a rallying cry for real change - assuming there is time to make it.

In the authorial reckoning, President Obama’s “corporatism,” described as the “Obama-industrial complex,” is like nothing seen from the executive branch in half a century. Even though Mr. Obama’s rhetoric is often anti-corporate, his administration’s practices aggressively enable the very corporate monoliths his words decry.

Not surprisingly, Mr. Obama’s enabling begets a quid pro quo. As Mr. Carney points out, employees and executives of companies such as Goldman Sachs Group, Boeing Co. and Pfizer donated much more money to the Democratic ticket than the Republican ticket in 2008. As is well known by now, Goldman Sachs reaped a special benefit from its coziness with the Obama campaign, with alums Timothy F. Geithner and Rahm “the rainmaker” Emanuel being ceded high-ranking posts.

Mr. Obama’s commitment to corporate welfare extends, as one would expect, to entire industries. A prominent example: his unstinting advocacy of one of the greatest boondoggles of the last decade, the ethanol scam.

As Mr. Carney points out, the Obama campaign repeatedly hammered his Republican opponent for not supporting ethanol subsidies - and the end result of this was Mr. Obama sweeping the corn belt states en route to victory. Canny politics, but suspect policy.

Naturally, an operation such as the Obama administration’s cannot be staffed exclusively by former Goldman Sachs employees. So it is that he attempted (and failed) to incorporate veteran Democratic hands with histories of sleazy and sordid doings, such as New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former South Dakota Sen. Tom Daschle, into his initial Cabinet. Hope and change? Not hardly.

But hope and change are not the point of the Obama administration, which cleaves to the middle way - a fact not lost on K Street lobbyists, one of whom is quoted exulting that “big government is back!” - which is akin, for constitutionalists, to celebrating the return of the black plague. This expanded role of the Potomac leviathan, of course, comes at the price of sovereignty itself.

As Mr. Carney points out, government debt is financed at the whim of the Chinese government, which will force our children to pay off the money ceded to the lobbyists of today.

And the biggest companies with the most lobbyists reap the benefits. This trend holds true for many sectors of the economy - big pharma, the insurance industry, king coal, big tobacco, the auto industry, agribusiness, the securities industry and so on - even as average Americans grapple with the realities of a deteriorating dollar, double-digit credit card interest rates, and houses with mortgages as underwater as a sunken ship. So it is that companies such as General Motors Corp., clinging to fiat bailout cash to survive, nonetheless kept their lobbyists employed even while pleading penury.

Though it will surprise some readers to discover the intertwining of the current administration and big business, the extent to which big labor is yoked to the Obama operation will surprise no one. The United Auto Workers, to name one union, spent over $13 million in efforts to elect Democrats - with almost $5 million devoted to influencing the presidential election. And with big labor and industry both on board, it is clear why a misbegotten program like “cash for clunkers” could be spawned and executed.

In a passage covering the Wall Street bailout, Mr. Carney remarks that if the “next crisis hits during Mr. Obama’s presidency, Big Business will be ready and willing to help him craft his new proposals.”

This assertion is true across the board. And at times we see big business involved explicitly in the partisan scrum, as best evidenced by the ties between General Electric’s MSNBC and the current White House.

GE, according to Mr. Carney, “spends more on lobbying than any other company in America.” Their news network features pro-administration agitprop (when it isn’t showing three-year-old reruns of “To Catch A Predator”). In that context, where the news operation is intertwined with a monster corporation’s lobbying arm, any pretensions of journalistic objectivity must be dismissed. As GE works to advance its business interests, it labors to advance the administration’s political fortunes in its journalistic capacity. Rachel Maddow, Keith Olbermann and the like, in that context, have all the credibility of infomercial shills.

After the 2008 election, there was much talk about the conservative movement being lost in the wilderness. Mr. Carney’s latest book delineates exactly why the movement must regain its bearings and coalesce in resistance to these policies and these cozy arrangements - before it is too late. As the author writes in the conclusion, “it’s time to grab the pitchforks.” Only then will there be real hope and authentic change.

A.G. Gancarski writes from Jacksonville, Fla.

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