So said James Pethokoukis in arguing against a lobbyist’s Wall Street Journal column pitting the debate over reform in government as between “evangelical libertarians” (i.e., the bad guys) and “Republican reformers” (delightfully reasonable people).
Pethokoukis properly dismissed the formulation:
Cronyism enlarges government, breeds corruption, and reduces economic growth by favoring politically connected incumbent firms (the kind who can hire pricey lobbyists) over startups. Cronyism is at the heart of what’s wrong with the American economy. Understanding that doesn’t make you some horrible libertarian caricature who wants to “eliminate government.” And, sorry, I really do want to get rid of corporate welfare of all kinds, whether they be special tax breaks, spending programs, regulations, or guarantees. Americans need a safety net, Corporate America does not. What’s “politically risky” about that position?
The debate, then, isn’t between evangelical libertarians and Republican reformers. It’s between those folks who understand Washington isn’t working and needs big, bold change — some of these folks are conservative reformers, others call themselves libertarian populists – and those folks who are, really, kind of OK with Big Government as long as the status quo benefits them in some way.