The Blog

Morning Jay: Democrats, Inc.

6:00 AM, Feb 17, 2012 • By JAY COST
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

This is why politicians in the liberal party do so many illiberal things. Railing against “millionaires and billionaires” on one day then ponying up to them, hat in hand, on the other is one such example. Another is preening about the undue influence of the pharmaceutical industry during the 2008 campaign, and then giving them a sweetheart deal in Obamacare.

And let’s be clear, those “millionaires and billionaires” are getting something for their campaign contributions. Consider, for instance, this great article by Peter Schweizer in Reason about Warren Buffett. He’s now the Democratic party’s number one talking point in pushing for equality. It isn’t fair that he gets taxed at such a lower rate than his secretary. He doesn’t need the money! But Schweizer demonstrates that Buffett has in fact made a killing off his access to the higher-ups in the Democratic party. A modest increase in his tax rate is a small price to pay for the ability to influence public policy.

And he is no exception. As Charles Gasparino argues about the Dodd-Frank regulations:

The trade-off for all this regulation is government protection, which is what makes the crony capitalism of the modern banking business really work . . . [I]mplicit in just about every facet of the bill was that “too big to fail”—the notion that Citigroup, Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan, and Morgan Stanley are so large and intertwined in the global economy that they need to be monitored and propped up no matter how much money they lose—was here to stay.

This signals the core problem of the Democratic party: It has become the opposite of what its founders intended it to be, and indeed opposite of what it claims to be today. The party presents itself as the party of the people against the powerful, of political and economic equality for all, of true social justice. But the reality is that the party now offers special benefits, sometimes amounting to billions of taxpayer dollars, for those who contribute to its political success. 

Last week I compared the modern party to Tammany Hall, and its coziness with Wall Street is probably the most striking example of the parallel between the two. Tammany didn't win elections merely through the support of the Irish, but also by keeping its financial sponsors on Wall Street happy. So, year after year, Tammany pols would enorse the Democratic party platform, which inevitably railed against the GOP's coziness with special interests, while they themselves were cozy with those very same interests. That is the modern Democratic party in a nutshell.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 18 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers