Regulation and the Right

We all know righties are against government regulation. Well, except when they aren’t.

Background: Brody Mullins and Kris Maher of the Wall Street Journal today claim that Barack Obama won the support of the Teamster’s Union by privately pledging to end government oversight of the Union. Both the Teamsters and the Obama campaign deny there was a quid pro quo. The Obama campaign says Obama was on record in favor of ending the government oversight of the Teamsters back in 2004.

The Teamsters point out that Senator Clinton also had told them she was opposed to the oversight:

The union also noted that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mr. Obama’s rival for the Democratic nomination, suggested that she might also support ending the union’s consent decree with the federal government when she spoke to the Teamsters’ general executive board last year.

“You can’t go around dragging the ball and the chain of the past,” Mrs. Clinton said on that occasion — the March 27, 2007, meeting of the board — according to an audio tape that the union made available. “And I think that’s true for anybody, any organization, any individual,” she continued. “And so I would be very open to looking at that, and to saying, ‘What are we trying to accomplish here?’ and see what the answers were. At some point, you turn the page and go on.”

Of course, the Clinton campaign now says Senator Clinton didn’t mean she was actually going to do anything about government oversight, and the Clintonistas have taken up right-wing talking points about the alleged Teamster quid pro quo to slam Obama.

BTW, I believe the oversight under discussion is a consent decree made between the Justice Department and the Teamsters back in 1989 that allows the feds to supervise the Union and Union elections. The Teamsters signed the decree to settle a civil racketeering lawsuit that federal prosecutors had brought against the Union, charging it with being controlled by mobsters.

We’re getting to the punch line — rightie blogger response to the Wall Street Journal story goes along the line of how dare anyone even think about not regulating unions! Here’s an example, from Townhall:

Today’s Wall Street Journal implies that Barack Obama may have offered the Teamsters a quid pro quo in order to win the endorsement. Making matters worse, his “deal” involves looking the other way on the issue of corruption. … Making back-room deals with the Teamsters — now that’s a “new brand of politics”!

In other words, reducing government supervision of the Teamsters is tantamount to “looking the other way on the issue of corruption.” The Teamsters were corrupt in the past; therefore, they will always be corrupt. They are corrupt by definition.

Funny Big Corporations and financial institutions are not held to the same standard, huh? Even as the nation’s economy is reeling from the mortgage crisis, the Right is hollering about unfair regulation of financial markets. Paul Krugman writes,

But while our out-of-control financial system has been bad for the country, it has been very good for wheeler-dealers, who collect huge fees when things seem to be going well, then get to walk away unscathed — indeed, often with large severance packages — when things go wrong. They don’t want regulations that would stabilize the economy but cramp their style.

And now that the financial clouds have lifted a bit, the pushback against sensible regulation is in full swing. Even the Fed’s very modest proposal to curb abusive mortgage lending with new standards is under fire, and there are worrying signs that the Fed may back down.

Here’s another little anomaly. Everybody knows righties are in favor of liberty and personal freedom, right? Well, except when they aren’t.

Art Brodsky writes in Huffington Post that the Right is fighting net neutrality:

Just in time for the House Telecommunications Subcommittee’s hearing tomorrow (May 6) on Net Neutrality legislation, former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX) and the American Spectator are out with new attacks on the simple idea that people should not have their Internet experiences subject to the whims of telephone and cable companies. …

… The April 28 [American Spectator] blog post, cleverly headlined, “Public Know Nothings,” — a play on Public Knowledge — read like a basic corporate hit job on Net Neutrality of the kind one might read at any number of blogs or by any columnists in the thrall of the corporate world. But the story, combined with Armey’s April 22 Washington Times headlined “Spare The Net,” raise the inevitable question — what is it about individual freedom that “conservatives” like the Spectator and Armey don’t like?

To be fair, the debate is larger than the Spectator and Armey. Most congressional Republicans oppose the idea of giving consumers freedom on the Internet. They take shelter in their anti-government, anti-regulation rhetoric, preferring to allow Internet freedom to apply to the corporations which own the networks connecting the Internet to consumers, rather than to consumers themselves.

Brodsky goes on to explain how the Right’s point of view is burdened by a “tragic misunderstanding of how telecommunications policy, markets and technology worked in the past and how they work today.” Know nothings, indeed. (For the record, I believe you probably can find some right-wing bloggers who do have a clue that if Net Neutrality goes, their blogging privileges might go with it.)

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One thought on “Regulation and the Right

  1. Yep, even righties are human beings – but I really have my doubts on that one.

    As written, seldom practiced, conservatism preaches the merits of an invisible federal government with very little power. Of course it is realistically and completely against human nature that those in government would or could ever abide by this precept.

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