By David Sanders
“I think Obamanomics — no one is actually sure yet,” Zanny Minton Beddoes, the economics editor of The Economist magazine, explained as she struggled to define President Obama’s economic policies in a recent speech to the World Affairs Council in Jacksonville, Fla.
Author and investigative reporter Timothy Carney doesn’t share Beddoes’ struggle and takes the topic head-on in his latest book, Obamanomics: How Barack Obama Is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses. This former protégé of the late conservative columnist Robert Novak knows how to get to the bottom of a classic inside-the-Beltway story. He now covers the lobbying beat and is a columnist for the Washington Examiner.
In his award-winning book, The Big Ripoff: How Big Business and Big Government Steal Your Money, Carney shattered the myth that big business is a vociferous defender of free markets and against the growth of government. Uncovering and exposing in meticulous detail, Carney showed just how big-time corporate lobbyists and their friends in the federal government — Republicans and Democrats alike — work together. They rely on carefully crafted legislation, onerous regulations and your tax dollars — all in the name of free-market capitalism — to crush competitors, increase profits and hurt consumers.
And now, in Obamanomics, Carney takes his muckraking journalism to the White House’s front steps, exposing the rampant “corporatism” (as opposed to socialism) that has President Obama and his allies with their hands out seeking campaign cash from special interests in exchange for favorable, even preferential, treatment from the federal government. And this was the administration that pledged to close the revolving door between government and the private sector through which people walk to cash in their government experience for high-dollar lobbying contracts and vice-versa!
Obamanomics, of course, cuts against Washington’s most compelling narrative (which started during the campaign): Obama, the agent of hope and change versus the powerful special interests. But Carney reveals a president who on the one hand professes to protect the little guy, but on the other supports policies that punish innovation, hurt small business and run up trillions of dollars of government debt, while rewarding his friends at Goldman Sachs, GE (a company that earned its own chapter in the book), Pfizer and the United Auto Workers.
As President Obama and congressional leadership race to enact sweeping health-care-reform legislation, Carney explains why health insurers, pharmaceutical companies and large corporations — often targets of President Obama’s rhetoric — are actually among the biggest backers of Obamacare.
Carney explains how, aside from the so-called public option (which health insurers find most offensive, but not for the same reasons those of us who fear increased government intervention in health care do), there is plenty in the proposed legislation that insurers like. Case in point: The tax break for employer-sponsored health insurance, easily “the biggest favor to the HMO’s.” This gift via the tax code is a major impediment to patient-owned health insurance, which many analysts believe could help bring down health-care costs.
After the pharmaceutical industry’s chief lobbyist visited the White House six times in the first eight months of the Obama administration and then subsequently pledged to support President Obama’s health-reform effort, who exactly saw to it that the cash subsidies for the drug makers were written into the bill? The answer is revealed in chapter 5.
Page after page, endnote after endnote, Carney walks readers through numerous examples of how the Obama administration intervenes in the economy, picking winners and losers, rewarding friends and hurting enemies, while we, the taxpayers, are left to foot the bill by having to pay higher taxes and higher prices.
Eleven months in — after the government bailouts for the big banks, the auto industry, not to mention the other billions of dollars in corporate welfare (via the stimulus package) and now health care — the polls indicate voters are waking up to Obamanomics. After reading this book, there will be little doubt what it is and where it’s taking our country.