Politics of Money; Book Shows Power of Big Business

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Stacy McCain, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Big business may be the biggest threat to free enterprise in America, Timothy P. Carney explains in his new book, "The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money." The book examines corporate welfare and other government schemes that benefit major corporations at the expense of small businesses, property owners and taxpayers.

A freelance reporter who has written for the Wall Street Journal, the American Spectator, The Washington Times and other publications, Mr. Carney also has his own Web site (timothypcarney.com). The following are excerpts of an e-mail interview with Mr. Carney:

Question: In American politics, Democrats have the reputation as being the party that represents the interests of the working class and poor people. How does that image match up to reality?

Answer: Democrats are faithful to the labor unions, but that's a different thing than helping the average American.

In researching my book, I found that the richest Americans are the core of the Democratic Party. The top three industries funding the 2006 election so far are lawyers, real estate and investment. All three of those industries have given more money to Hillary Clinton than to any other politician. The top four contributors to the 2004 election, all giving over $10 million, gave exclusively to Democrats, with George Soros topping the list.

In 2000, voters who identified as "upper class" voted only 39 percent for George Bush and 56 percent for Al Gore. The richest counties in the U.S. voted for Kerry in 2004.

The Democrats argue that tax cuts and deregulation hurt the little guy, but my book makes the opposite argument.

Q: By contrast, Republicans have the reputation of being a party devoted to deregulating the economy. How does that image match up to reality?

A: Historically, the GOP's record on the economy is not as free-market as its rhetoric. Perhaps the worst instance of government central planning in U.S. history was Richard Nixon's wage and price controls, which the National Association of Manufacturers and other business leaders applauded.

The current Congress' record on pork and spending puts the lie to the GOP's limited-government record. Republicans are nearly as prone as Democrats to increasing government control of the economy, in part because big business has so much influence in both parties.

Q: You show several cases in which big business supports increased economic regulations and higher taxes. Why do they do that?

A: In general, regulation adds to overhead, which creates a barrier to entry and disproportionately affects smaller businesses. When Wal-Mart's CEO calls on Congress to consider raising the minimum wage, he knows that Mom and Pop will be affected by a minimum-wage hike, while Wal-Mart likely won't.

Also, working with bureaucrats and politicians rather than just telling them to buzz off is good long-term strategy in the eyes of many CEOs and lobbyists. Microsoft learned the hard way that minding your own business will incur the wrath of Washington.

Finally, big business can afford the most connected lobbyists. By concentrating power in Washington, you further empower big business vis-a-vis their smaller competition.

Q: Why do environmental activists push an agenda that is highly favorable to big business? …