Opinion

Fields: Senator Bennet’s support of crony capitalism

Author: Michael Fields - May 9, 2016 - Updated: May 11, 2016

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Michael Fields
Michael Fields

Even though it’s been almost a decade, our economy still hasn’t fully recovered. Too many people are still unemployed or underemployed, many small businesses have shut their doors, and a growing number of college graduates face mounting student debt along with bleak job prospects.

One critical reason for this is an often misunderstood or overlooked dynamic in the economy. Like the shifting of tectonic plates that leads to an earthquake, this dynamic is a bit like the “Big One,” the nickname for the earthquake that west coasters have feared for decades could cause the crumbling of cities. The reality is we have been moving toward an economic tectonic plate shift for decades now — and it’s only getting worse. So, what is this economic swing that is threatening our country’s future?

It’s corporate welfare.

Corporate welfare, or crony capitalism, is threatening the rock solid foundations of the American free-market economy.

Because of the enormous implications of corporate welfare on our economic system, it is critical that we are aware of politicians from both sides of the aisle who support these corporate handouts for big businesses. And U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet has proven to be a main culprit.

In one of the highest profile battles over corporate welfare in years, the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank, Sen. Bennet voted to continue to hand out billions of dollars in taxpayer loans and guarantees to some of the most profitable corporations both at home and abroad. The very institution which candidate Barack Obama once called “a fund for corporate welfare,” and which Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders opposes, still found support from Sen. Bennet.

Sen. Bennet’s vote for the Export-Import Bank may be the highest profile example of his support for crony capitalism, but it’s certainly not his only one.

Sen. Bennet has routinely been in favor of handouts to “green energy” — as evidenced by his support of extending the Wind Production Tax Credit. This tax credit provides a break on tax bills for every unit of energy produced by wind farm companies. This handout has been around for more than two decades even though, as Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley once famously said, “I’d say we’re going to have to do it for at least another five years, maybe for 10 years. Sometime we’re going to reach that point where it’s competitive with other forms of energy. “

Businesses that have been created through the free-market were not intended to rely on taxpayer handouts in order to avoid bad fiscal years, or even to avoid closing their doors. Even worse, through, corporate welfare is often used to subsidize profitable companies at a time when so many people are struggling to tread water themselves.

Unfortunately, politicians are all too ready to support corporate welfare throughout all levels of government. Promises of jobs in the district, government investment in “exciting” industries, and of course the always effective campaign donation, all serve as reason for politicians to use their power to benefit specific industries or companies.

It is simply not the role of government to pick and choose which industries or companies should win or lose in the marketplace. For example, by allowing the free market to work, many would find that wind energy is not worth pouring taxpayer funds into — and we should instead allow the free-market to drive supply and demand to produce new energy technologies

All of the crony capitalism legislation that Sen. Bennet supported shows the uncomfortably close relationship between big government and big business, which for too long has gone unchallenged. If we want to shore up the foundations of our free-market economy so we can thrive and the next generation can succeed economically, it’s time we demand our politicians stop propping up big business at the expense of everyone else.

 

Michael Fields

Michael Fields

Michael Fields is the state director for Americans for Prosperity-Colorado, the largest non-partisan, free-market grassroots organization in the state, with over 127,000 activists.