Governor Palin’s Free Market Populism Bests the Boys’ Crony Capitalism

by Whitney Pitcher

Under the false premise that the government can create jobs, the Obama administration is proposing yet another stimulus/jobs bill that would use nearly half a trillion in taxpayer dollars as another supposed attempt to help the American economy. This new jobs bill is considered by some, however, to primarily be a bailout for blue states. This comes on the heels of the Solyndra scandal  where President Obama’s hybrid of crony capitalism and corporatism meant taxpayer dollars went to funding a failed solar panel company with strong ties to his campaign donors. Solyndra is not the only company to fall under the Obama administration’s “too green to fail” mentality when it comes to stimulus funding, as four other “green” companies who received stimulus funding also have gone bankrupt. This loan guarantee program for green companies that was a key component of the 2009 stimulus bill has cost American taxpayers $38.6 billion, but has yielded fewer than 4,000 of the promised 65,000 jobs from the loan program. The stimulus bill as a whole was supposed to prevent unemployment from going above 8%, but instead it has been above 8% since February of 2009.

Additionally, although Governor Romney’s healthcare reform bill was not specifically intended to spur job creation, it’s big  government action has impacted jobs– for the worse. A report published this week estimates that Romneycare has cost Massachusetts more than 18,000 jobs. Beyond their similar approaches to healthcare reform, Governor Romney’s policies and stances are similar to President Obama’s in that he feels that subsidies and corporatism are part of a “pro business/big government” mindset, as his administration offered special technology loans to lure business from other states. As a presidential candidate for 2008 and 2012, Romney has supported both energy subsidies and insurance subsidies, and he still supports TARP—all means of government funnel taxpayer dollars towards business.

Governor Perry, who is touted by many as the “jobs” candidate, may have had a lot of jobs come to Texas during his tenure, but he also implemented “pro business” loans like both President Obama and Governor Romney. Like President Obama, he scratched the back of his political donors at the expense of taxpayers. His Emerging Technology Fund also proved to be a mechanism of reciprocity to his political donors to the tune of 200 million in taxpayer dollars. The Wall Street Journal  reports that one such donor invested more in Perry’s campaign than the company for which they were seeking a grant. Interestingly, the grant was initially denied by a regional committee, but was later approved by a Perry appointed committee:

In 2009, when Mr. Nance submitted his application for a $4.5 million Emerging Technology Fund grant for Convergen, he and his partners had invested only $1,000 of their own money into their new company, according to documentation prepared by the governor’s office in February 2010. But over the years, Mr. Nance managed to invest a lot more than $1,000 in Mr. Perry. Texas Ethics Commission records show that Mr. Nance donated $75,000 to Mr. Perry’s campaigns between 2001 and 2006.

The regional panel that reviewed Convergen’s application turned down the company’s $4.5 million request when it presented its proposal on Oct. 7, 2009. But Mr. Nance appealed that decision directly to a statewide advisory committee (of which Mr. Nance was once a member) appointed by Mr. Perry. Just eight days later, on Oct. 15, a subcommittee unanimously recommended approval by the full statewide committee. On Oct. 29, the full advisory committee unanimously recommended the approval of Convergen’s application. When asked why the advisory committee felt comfortable recommending Convergen’s grant, Lucy Nashed, a spokesperson for Mr. Perry, said that the committee “thoroughly vetted the company.”

This was only one example of the reciprocity between Perry donors and grant recipients. The Dallas Morning News shares this graphic depicting hundreds of thousands of campaign donations from companies who would later receive grant funding from Governor Perry’s initiative:

Governor Palin, on the other hand, realizes that government neither creates jobs, nor is supposed to be a channel to funnel taxpayer dollars back to political donors. She recognizes that government’s role is not to be pro business, but pro market, where through billions of transactions the American public determines the success and failure of business by what they choose to buy, not by what government chooses to subsidize. In her Tea Party speech earlier this month, she spoke of the need for less federal government intervention, not only in less regulation and more federalism, but also in removing subsidies, loopholes, and bailouts—the very things her potential political opponents engage in– from the economic equation (emphasis added):

But here’s the best part: To balance out any loss of federal revenue from this tax cut, we eliminate corporate welfare and all the loopholes and we eliminate bailouts. This is how we break the back of crony capitalism because it feeds off corporate welfare, which is just socialism for the very rich. We can change all of that. The message then to job-creating corporations is: We’ll unshackle you from the world’s highest federal corporate income tax rate, but you will stand or fall on your own, just like all the rest of us out on main street.

Governor Palin knows better than anyone else the need to remove crony capitalism from politics. As she noted on Greta van Susteren’s show earlier this week she has the “bumps and bruises to prove it”. ACES, her oil tax plan, reformed Governor Murkowski’s crony corruption tainted plan that was written to favor certain oil companies and ultimately also led to the arrest of oil company personnel, gubernatorial staff, and state legislators.  ACES was not a behind closed doors deal. In fact, Governor Palin did not allow lobbyists in her office at all.  Instead, it was a plan written and passed in a transparent manner, was presented to the people of Alaska more than two weeks before it was presented to the legislature, and did not involve undue influence from the oil companies.  Following the passage of ACES, Alaska saw a record number of oil jobs during Governor Palin’s tenure.  Not only were the number of jobs increasing, the legislation made development more attractive for other companies beyond the “Big Oil” companies favored by Governor Palin’s predecessor. Since the passage of ACES, the number of companies filing with the state of Alaska has doubled.

Even though a third of Alaskan jobs are tied to the oil industry, Governor Palin’s stellar jobs record extends behind solely that industry. Critics may argue that in an energy rich state, jobs naturally increase during a time when oil prices are high (as was the case during Governor Palin’s tenure) as more energy industry jobs are created. When Governor Palin took office in December of 2006, Alaska was pulling up the rear when it came to jobs, ranking 49th out of the 50 states and Washington D.C. In her first year in office, Alaska was 6th best in improvement in unemployment. By the end of the final year of her tenure, Alaska was ranked 21st in the country. This kind of impressive record on jobs is how Alaska was 2nd best in job growth during her tenure.  Data from the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, showed that in addition to a 13.7% increase in resource development jobs, Alaska saw a nearly 5% increase in business service jobs and a 6.4% increase in education and health related jobs during Governor Palin’s time in office.

Governor Palin’s record reinforces her rhetoric. Instead of giving companies  millions or billions in taxpayer dollars in an attempt to create jobs or giving preferential treatment to favored companies or campaign donors, Governor Palin sought to remove the ties of cronyism and truly create a level playing field where businesses are neither too influential to fail, nor too small to succeed. This is what separates Governor Palin from all of her potential political opponents who have gained for themselves the moniker of crony capitalist or corporatist. Instead, she is, in the words Jim Pethokoukis of CNBC, a free market populist. This doesn’t make her William Jennings Bryan in skirt railing against big business, but instead a conservative warrior fighting against entangled web of business, political donors, and big government.

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