National Commentary

The New Financial Fundamentalism

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The New York Times had a revealing article that stated: “Big business groups like the Chamber of Commerce spent millions of dollars in 2010 to elect Republican candidates running for the House. The return on investment has not always met expectations”

The business groups share the same delusion as moderate Republicans – which is the foolish idea that fundamentalists can be controlled by using reason, logic, and what is in the best interests of America. They never counted on the fact that these ridged hardcore ideologues were dead serious when they said that they wanted to essentially eliminate government – even at the expense of the economy.

Free market fundamentalism has become as sacred as religious fundamentalism to social conservatives and it is difficult to see where one begins and the other ends. One needs no further evidence than the enormous political capital the Family Research Council has invested in thwarting healthcare reform efforts.

“Did you catch President Obama’s remarks this week?” asked FRC Senior Vice President Tom McClusky in an e-mail sent to supporters this week. “He is getting desperate as he realizes that the centerpiece of his four years in office — the atrocity known as ObamaCare — is on the ropes after the Supreme Court trial uncovered how unconstitutional it really is….Obamacare must go!”

Who knew that Jesus was so gung-ho on insurance companies, where faceless bureaucrats working in sterile office cubicles decide if you live or die based on company profits?

Clearly, the extremism once confined to social issues has now expanded to economic concerns and is beginning to spook leading business associations. This is giving them a case of buyer’s remorse as the Republican members of Congress they once thought pliant are behaving like implacable foes. According to the Times:

Even though money for major road and bridge projects is set to run out this weekend, House Republican leaders have struggled all week to round up the votes from recalcitrant conservatives simply to extend it for 90 or even 60 days. A longer-term transportation bill that contractors and the chamber say is vital to the recovery of the construction industry appears hopelessly stalled over costs.

At the same time, House conservatives are pressing to allow the U.S. Export-Import Bank, which has financed exports since the Depression, to run out of lending authority within weeks. The bank faces the possibility of shutting its doors completely by the end of May, when its legal authorization expires.

And a host of routine business tax breaks – from wind energy subsidies to research and development tax credits – cannot be passed because of Republican insistence that they be paid for with spending cuts.

Aside from ideology, it appears that some conservative Republicans might want to sacrifice economic recovery to harm President Barack Obama’s chances for reelection. A poor economy is even more important if Mitt Romney receives the nomination, because his entire campaign is based upon his alleged management experience and his personal economic success. Consider this evidence:

There could be real-world consequences to the conservative rebellion. The 90-day extension of the highway trust fund that House Republican leaders say they will pass this week in lieu of a broad highway bill would keep existing projects moving for now. But business groups say few new government-funded infrastructure projects can get under way without longer-range certainty about federal backing.

“The majority of the work is supposed to go out in spring and get done by the fall,” said Jeff Shoaf, senior executive director of government affairs at the Associated General Contractors, a group that donated $1 million to candidates in 2010, 80 percent of that to Republicans. “Instead of spending 60 or 70 percent of their budgets, they’re going to cut back to 50 or 40 percent to make sure they have some cash in the fall.”

Exports have been one of the bright spots of the fragile recovery, but without Export-Import Bank financing, companies could struggle to complete contracts with overseas buyers.

How convenient for conservatives to manufacture an economic crisis and stall the burgeoning recovery in the fall – right as voters prepare to head to the polls. Is this a mere coincidence or economic suicide by design?

Once again, so-called conservatives appear to have put their so-called movement ahead of America’s best interests. If the economy tanks in the fall, remember this article so you know where to point your finger and properly affix blame.

 


Wayne Besen is a columnist and author of the book “Anything But Straight: Unmasking the Scandals and Lies Behind the Ex-Gay Myth.”