This week, Donald Trump convinced Carrier — a company that makes air conditioners and the like — not to move one of its Indiana factories to Mexico, in exchange for $7 million in tax incentives (and, possibly, a tacit promise not to mess with its parent company’s federal contracts).
That deal is expected to save more than 1,000 jobs.
This was a big win for the president-elect — and a big loss for free-market conservatism.
After all, what’s more “crony capitalist” than a president demanding an enterprise alter its business plan, so that he can make good on a campaign promise? (I mean, besides allowing a man who runs a global business empire to assume the Oval Office, without subjecting his conflicts of interest to congressional investigation).
Surely, Paul Ryan would condemn this attack on the invisible hand. After all, if there’s one thing we know about the House Speaker, it’s that he hates when government picks winners and losers.
“I’m pretty happy that we’re keeping jobs in America, aren’t you?” Ryan told USA Today on Thursday. “I think it’s pretty darn good that people are keeping their jobs in Indiana instead of going to Mexico.”
Well. In retrospect, Ryan always had a freewheeling populist streak. Or, at least, he was never a buttoned-up, Hayek-quoting, wonky scold like Sarah Palin.
Writing for the Young Conservatives on Friday, the would-be veep turned reality star made the intellectual case against Trump’s intervention:
When government steps in arbitrarily with individual subsidies, favoring one business over others, it sets inconsistent, unfair, illogical precedent. Meanwhile, the invisible hand that best orchestrates a free people’s free enterprise system gets amputated. Then, special interests creep in and manipulate markets. Republicans oppose this, remember? Instead, we support competition on a level playing field, remember? Because we know special interest crony capitalism is one big fail.
Sarah Palin/Larry Summers 2020.