Big Business is freaking out about the building wave against cronyism

Big Business and the Wall Street class are still trying to figure out what to make of outgoing Rep. Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) stunning loss to Dave Brat and what it means for the national political landscape now that it appears the Tea Party movement is experiencing a resurgence, as The New York Times explains:

His loss at the hands of David Brat, a Tea Party-inspired economics professor who campaigned on throwing corrupt Wall Street bankers in jail, railed against crony capitalism and insisted that immigration reform would only reward lawbreakers, spurred business leaders to mobilize to preserve their clout in Congress. Already uneasy over what they see as an especially hostile strain of anticorporate populism growing within the conservative movement, and threatening the traditional corporate-friendly centers of power inside the Republican Party, many businesses fear the loss of some of their strongest champions on Capitol Hill.
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What has concerned many businesses with a stake in federal policy is a growing anger on the right from people who can sound more Occupy Wall Street than Tea Party.

“You could even make a case that there’s a lot in common between the Tea Party types and the Elizabeth Warren liberals,” said Gregory R. Valliere, the chief political strategist for the Potomac Research Group. “The impact of what’s happened is going to make Republicans in the House apprehensive about appearing to be too cozy to business.”

Conservatives like Mr. Brat would describe their views as more free market than anything else. They mistrust Wall Street and Washington, but diverge with the populist left on things like mandatory minimum wages and the necessity of a social safety net. Mr. Brat attacked Mr. Cantor for running on the “Chamber of Commerce growth plan,” but also would repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Beyond their priorities in Congress, what has unsettled business executives is what they sense as a growing anger over the “corporate welfare” and “crony capitalism” among many associated with the Tea Party.

The Tea Party movement was going after Big Business and cronyism in Washington long before Occupy Wall Street came on the scene in September 2011. Porkbusters was the forerunner to the Tea Party. That particular push, which targeted wasteful, pork-barrel spending, gained steam in 2005 and eventually led to congressional moratorium on earmarks, which are often doled out to politically-connected businesses and special interests.

Basically, the anti-cronyism sentiment coming from the Tea Party movement is nothing new from conservative and libertarian circles. The frustration over the 2008 Wall Street bailout and the Obama administration’s plan to refinance sketchy, underwater mortgages, sparked Rick Santelli’s rant on the floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange, what was led to its emergence in February 2009.

Pundits and commentators have, for several months now, tried to convince Americans that the Tea Party movement was dead. Cantor’s loss and the uphill battle that Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) faces have turned that false narrative on its head.

But the reemergence of the Tea Pary movement is just the beginning of something much larger. Last week, this author told a leftist friend that the next big thing in American politics will be an alliance — a form of “fusion,” so to speak — in which progressives and free marketers fight against cronyism.

Sure, this may not extend past this growing anti-cronyism sentiment. After all, progressives and free marketers don’t agree on very much. But the common belief that special interests on K Street own the two corporate parties is where these two ideological opposites attract.


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