The Corner

Is That Really What Free-Market Means?

This morning, the New York Times reported that the president “defended his spending, tax and regulatory initiatives as the natural response to a historic economic crisis,” and declared himself an “ardent believer in the free market,” challenging “a line of criticism that has fueled discontent with his presidency.” Obama said “the policies of his first year in office . . . ‘were about saving the economy from collapse, not about expanding government’s reach into the economy.’”

If the president’s policies are the policies of a free-market president, then I will never call myself free market again. I have to say, I’ve felt this way often in the last eight years, especially when President Bush declared “I’ve abandoned free market principles to save the free market system.”

Also, according to Bloomberg News:

President Barack Obama said he and his administration have pursued a “fundamentally business-friendly” agenda and are “fierce advocates” for the free market, rejecting corporate criticism of his policies.

“The irony is, is that on the left we are perceived as being in the pockets of big business; and then on the business side, we are perceived as being anti-business,” Obama said in a Feb. 9 interview in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands tomorrow.”

There is no irony there. It’s hard to see how the Left could feel otherwise after the president spent billions bailout the financial industry and in light of the very special ties that exist between this administration – as well as prior administrations – and the corporate world (AIG, Goldman Sacks, Freddie and Fannie to cite only a few).

It is also hard to see how the business community wouldn’t be left feeling that this administration is severally anti-businesses. First, there is the nonstop populist rhetoric aimed mainly against banks and the financial industry. Then, there are the attacks on the corporate income tax that will do nothing to address the real problem with the tax but only penalize American companies doing business abroad. There are also the tax increases, cap-and-trade, and health-care reform that will hurt the small business community.

The only irony is that the president can’t or won’t see it. 

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