We NEED More Like MIKE

Democracy and Power 114: The Power Players

Politicians and interest groups control the American political process. Special-interest groups – big business, big unions, education, seniors, and a multitude of others – seek favors: tax breaks, subsidies, exclusive legislation, etc. Interest groups give enormous amounts of money to political campaigns and receive gigantic benefits in return.

We NEED More Like MIKE

Representative Eric Cantor (R-VA) is an establishment Republican and was very powerful. He excelled at courting and pleasing big business and Wall Street. In exchange for Cantor’s powerful help and protection, big business and Wall Street contributed enormous amounts of money to Cantor’s political campaign, which made him the second most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives.

One example of the magnitude of power and money in the relationship between Cantor (a politician) and big business is his relationship with Boeing (big business). Cantor has long protected the Export-Import Banks, a federal government program which guarantees loans to foreign customers that purchase US goods. Boeing has made a billions of dollars because of these US government-loan guarantees made to foreigners. This year, it is estimated that Boeing will have sales of $10 billion with the help of the Export-Import Bank.

Uh-oh…Cantor is defeated and the reauthorization of the Export-Import Bank is suddenly in jeopardy. Our stock market immediately reacted to the loss of Cantor’s protection of the Export-Import Bank, and the Boeing stock dropped over 2 percent.

Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), a strong advocate of small and honest government, deplores the Export-Import Bank and the special favors to big businesses. In the National Review, Lee wrote, “In short, Congress allows the Export-Import Bank to unnecessarily risk taxpayer money to subsidize well-connected private companies.”

Lee fully understands that both parties, Republicans and Democrats, regularly and wrongfully misuse taxpayers’ money to enrich themselves (the politician’s power) and big business. Thus, Lee excoriates President Obama:

“From the stimulus to cash-for-clunkers, from the bailouts to cap-and-trade, from Dodd-Frank to Obamacare, every name-brand initiative of the president’s term has distorted public policy to privilege well-connected insiders and elites at the expense of taxpayers and consumer.”

Of course, controlling and misusing the power of government has always existed. Our forefather, Benjamin Franklin, understood the corrupt exchanges of money and power between special-interests predators and the rulers. In a letter, Franklin warned his fellow delegates to the Constitutional Convention:

“There will always be a party for giving more to the rulers, that the rulers may be able in return to give more to them. Hence as all history informs us, there has been in every State & Kingdom, a constant kind of warfare between the governing & governed: the one striving to obtain more for its support, and the other to pay less. And this has alone occasioned great convulsions, actual civil wars, ending either in dethroning of the Princes, or enslaving of the people. Generally indeed the ruling power carries its point, the revenues of princes constantly increasing, and we see that they are never satisfied, but always in want of more.”

Americans must break the special interest corruptions between big business, big unions and powerful politicians. Cantor’s defeat is only a small step toward honest and better government. Americans need more politicians and philosophers similar to Mike Lee and Benjamin Franklin.