Every time we start to give up on those people in Washington, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint comes along and gives us a little hope.
For many conservatives, it’s quite easy to bash social welfare programs put forth by Democrats. But how consistent are these folks when it comes to government hand-outs desired by Republican-voting business interests?
The Wall Street Journal explored that question with an op-ed yesterday:
One test for economic conservatives is whether they are willing to oppose constituent business interests looking for government favoritism. On that score, two recent contrasting votes by Jim DeMint of South Carolina and Marco Rubio of Florida are instructive.
Last month the Senate easily voted to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, 78-20, a vote that was never much in doubt given the backing from business lobbies and the White House. But it’s still worth saluting the 20 votes in opposition—19 Republicans and independent socialist Bernie Sanders—and especially Mr. DeMint, a rare case of a Senator voting for principle against the biggest interests in his home state.
Boeing is the largest beneficiary of Ex-Im bank taxpayer loan guarantees and it has a new plant to turn out 787s in North Charleston. General Electric and Caterpillar have major plants in South Carolina and get Ex-Im help too. Mr. DeMint went so far as to lead the charge against Ex-Im, much to the annoyance of Chambers of Commerce in the Palmetto State.
“I gave a speech to 400 Chamber members and everyone was for Ex-Im Bank,” he says. “So I asked them: ‘How many of you would sign your own name to this loan?’ Not a single hand went up.” Mr. DeMint says he voted as he did because he’s concluded that “we’ve created a culture in Washington that has almost every major business in the country with its nose in the trough.”
That includes the sugar lobby, which last week narrowly defeated a bipartisan attempt at reforming its egregious quota program that gouges American consumers to benefit a mere 5,000 or so farmers. The Senate voted 50-46 to table Senator Pat Toomey’s reform bill, but the reform would have passed if not for the votes of 16 GOP Senators. […]
The usual sugar beet and sugar cane state suspects dominate the list, but one name leaps out—Mr. Rubio, the freshman from Florida who won his seat in 2010 while running as a tea party favorite in opposition to the crony capitalism and government meddling of the Obama Administration.
Mr. Rubio nonetheless voted against consumers and for the big sugar-cane producers, including Florida’s Fanjul family. Mr. Rubio thus voted to the left of the 16 Democrats who joined 30 Republicans in supporting sugar reform. Unlike Mr. DeMint, the Floridian was not a profile in courage on this issue, or even a profile.
The political habit of favoring big business is bipartisan, as the sugar and Ex-Im Bank votes show. If Republicans want the political credibility to reform middle-class entitlements, they had better be prepared to eliminate corporate welfare too. Kudos to Mr. DeMint for understanding this.