Politics & Policy

The Government Party

New Jersey public employee union members rally in Trenton, June 20, 2011.
The Democratic party is no longer the defender of “the little guy.”

The Democratic party portrays itself as the defender of the little guy, righteously battling corporate America and other powerful villains. Its appeals used to have a wide resonance, even among some members of my own family. But underneath the rhetoric and media spin, the Democratic party has emerged today as a vociferous protector of three entrenched and powerful groups — Big Business, Big Government (specifically, public-employee unions), and the radical Left — that pursue their own narrow interests at the expense of everyday Americans.

#ad#In fact, the name “Democratic” is no longer accurate; the party is now better described as the Government party. Increasingly uninterested in its own stated ideals, the party has as its main function using the government to perpetuate and expand its own power and that of its three dominant backers. This effort, in large part, is funded by mandatory public-employee-union dues — taxpayer money that is taken from union members’ paychecks and given to the unions, which use these huge sums to support the election of more members of the Government party.


In view of its theatrical denunciations of Wall Street and greedy corporations, it may be hard to believe that the Government party is the party of Big Business. Yet under various guises — “stimulus,” “green initiatives,” and “bailouts,” to name a few — the Obama administration and its allies in Congress have poured tens of billions of dollars into corporate America’s coffers. A congressional report even found that billions of dollars in green-energy stimulus funds were given to foreign firms. While Democrats used to denounce this sort of thing as corporate welfare, such payments are now a natural result of the party’s belief that the economy needs to be “managed” by government experts.

Aside from receiving direct government subsidies and loan guarantees, corporations are among the biggest beneficiaries of the Government party’s intrusive mandates and regulations. For example, President Obama advertised Obamacare as a blow against big health insurers, but those very companies will reap tens of billions of dollars a year once the Obamacare mandate forces millions of reluctant Americans to buy their policies. Indeed, throughout the health-care industry, Obamacare will benefit the biggest companies at the expense of smaller competitors.

That’s a common effect of Government-party regulations; with their giant bank accounts and armies of lobbyists, corporations can influence legislation to achieve that outcome. Not every big business wants to play this game, but they all know how easily the government can craft regulations to hurt defiant companies. In other words, if a business is not at the government’s table, it’ll be on the menu.

Public-employee unions are another major beneficiary of the Government party. As the private economy limps along, unionized public employees have emerged as a gilded class that reaps health-care benefits, job security, and pensions at levels rarely found among the struggling private-sector workers who pay their salaries. Dependent on the unions’ political donations and electioneering, the Government party bitterly resists efforts to scale back union members’ lavish perks, even as these enormous expenses ravage state budgets and force spending cuts in other programs. In Wisconsin, Government-party legislators launched a scorched-earth policy against proposed reforms, fleeing the state en masse in a failed effort to block the legislation. Government-party adherents, including President Obama himself, also denounce right-to-work laws, which simply afford employees the choice of whether or not to join a union and contribute dues.

The radical Left is the final component of the Government party’s trinity. Green groups and other left-wing organizations, largely led by rich elites in big cities, back the party in exchange for its support for their agenda and its funneling of taxpayer money to them. In California, these elites exploit the system to protect and augment their own wealth, which allows them to survive the economic damage their policies do to the state. This damage, conveniently, ensures that there will be a permanent group of menial laborers to serve them. And the government’s high-speed-rail scheme will mean that the elites can be served by members of this government-created underclass without having to live in proximity to them.


Under Government-party rule, there is a distinct stratum of winners — unionized car makers, banks and other financial institutions deemed “too big to fail,” money-losing “clean energy” firms, Government-party leaders, union bosses, radical environmental groups, and politically connected corporations. The winners tend to be those who crave power, and in states like California they have accumulated nearly absolute power for the Government party.

But there’s an even bigger group of losers. Topping that list is small businesses, which lack the money and the lobbyists that their bigger competitors use to influence legislation. Another loser is blue-collar workers, whose hours are being cut and whose jobs are being eliminated as firms downsize in order to avoid Obamacare’s employer mandate.

#page#The millennial generation is also a big loser in this system. Because there is never enough taxpayer money to support all the Government party’s ambitions, its rule entails the accumulation of immense debts that will be handed off to the younger generation. Rising debt levels will be used to justify higher taxes, as we’ve already seen both in Sacramento and in Washington, D.C. And since higher taxes will suppress economic growth but won’t come close to paying off our exploding debt, the next generation can expect drastic cuts in government services and entitlement benefits to accompany their higher tax burden. The resulting economic damage suits the purposes of the Government party, since declining job opportunities in the private sector will drive more people into government jobs and into the party’s ranks.

#ad#It should be noted that Hispanics, whom the Government party views as a permanent constituency, will be particularly hard hit. In California, Hispanic farmers and farm workers alike are suffering from our government-induced drought; like all hard-working Californians, they are subject to sky-high electric bills and gas prices due to “green” energy regulations; and their prospects for future employment and upward mobility are diminished by the exodus of businesses to other states. As the private sector shrivels, joining the government caste becomes the only way for Hispanics and other immigrants to earn a decent living.

Vast swaths of our nation reject the debt-ridden crony capitalism of the Government party. Yet the aspirations of residents in these areas, especially in rural and suburban America, are outweighed by the demands of the Government party’s client base in the big cities that dominate elections. Constantly in need of more taxpayer money, the alliance of unions, leftists, and rent-seeking corporations ensures that taxpayer largesse flows freely to the cities they control, leaving behind unsustainable debts that ensnare us all.


Although some groups are happily receiving more than their fair share of taxpayer dollars courtesy of the Government party, they should reflect on the grim future in store for us when this system exhausts itself. We can’t tax and borrow our way to prosperity; the endpoint of our current trajectory is not affluence but national insolvency. At that point we will stop debating whether to restrain spending, because our creditors will impose the most severe and far-reaching restraint upon us. You can ask the Greeks how that feels, as their creditors have insisted on harsh austerity measures in reaction to their government’s fiscal crisis. According to the Associated Press, “In a country where about 1,000 people lose their jobs each day, legions more are still employed but haven’t seen a paycheck in months. . . . Those who have jobs that pay on time consider themselves the exception to the rule.”

In the end, nearly everyone will suffer under Government-party rule. The poor may think they’re beholden to the party and its promises of free education, free health care, and myriad free government services, but in reality, the evisceration of the private sector is wiping out their path to prosperity. And the government caste may think its pensions and perks are untouchable, but when the diminishing private sector can no longer provide enough tax revenues to cover these costs, simple mathematics dictates that these benefits will be drastically cut, if not eliminated entirely.

The American people deserve a government that serves their interests instead of pursuing its own. As the Government party in big cities demands an ever-growing share of a dwindling pool of wealth, it’s up to the rest of us, especially in suburban and rural America, to support lawmakers and policies that allow for the creation of wealth, not its redistribution.

— Devin Nunes, the U.S. representative for California’s 22nd congressional district, is Trade Subcommittee chairman on the Ways and Means Committee as well as a member of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

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