Apparently Jonathan Chait took a shot at Washington Examiner writer Tim Carney in the latest issue of The New Republic (it’s impossible to tell for sure because the article is behind a paywall). Carney’s running argument is that Barack Obama is no anti-corporate crusader, but instead a politician as usual, ready to dole out favors and cut deals. Carney responds, and drinks Chait’s milkshake:
The central fallacy of all the critiques of Obama’s “corporatism,” both right and left, is that they mistake negotiation for collaboration. There is a difference between businesses jostling to minimize the damage of a reform they can’t stop and businesses crafting legislation they desperately want to enact.
Yes, there is a difference, and we’ve seen the whole spectrum under Obama, with Wall Street closest to the “negotiation” end of it.
For pure collaboration, look at climate change legislation. GE, which has spent more on lobbying over the past decade than any corporation, has a business that deals in greenhouse gas credits – which are useless without carbon constraints. GE helped launch the U.S. Climate Action Partnership which put cap-and-trade on the table. GE’s CEO is on Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board. GE isn’t compromising with the White House, it is collaborating.
Another fine example of pure cooperation is Google and the White House. To borrow Chait’s analogy, this arrangement more closely resembles the Hitler-Stalin pact than the Treaty of Versailles, with both sides winning and losses for those who are left out. And both parties are explicitly working together, in violation of ethics rules.
And the drug industry was hardly “jostling to minimize the damage of a reform they can’t stop” with health-care reform. The guys who were trying to stop it tell me they had won during Town Hall Summer, with all the Democrats running scared, until top drug lobbyist Billy Tauzin cut a deal with Rahm Emanuel to save a bill that otherwise would have died. The final bill ended up leaving the drug makers better than they would have been without it – subsidies, mandates, extended protection from generics – and now the drug companies are running ads for Harry Reid’s tough reelection.