Donkey Trough

January 11, 2016

The Democrat Obsession with Corporate Welfare

By State Senator Joe Markley

Benito Mussolini came to power with a gassy promise to improve the lives of his countrymen. Grounded in socialist economics, he introduced a program that included minimum wage hikes, price controls, consumption taxes, and enormous public works projects designed to boost employment.

That sounds like a liberal Democrat’s dream, but it doesn’t necessarily make the Mediterranean despot a precursor to Hillary Clinton and Dannel Malloy. Il Duce’s economics cannot be separated from his broader philosophy of fascism.

Mussolini’s goal was to vertically integrate all parts of Italian society into a “cooperative state” that would transcend class divides. Modern Democrats, on the other hand, widen divisions in civil society in order to cobble together demographic groups that provide them with money and votes.

To that end, Hillary Clinton promises to pelt the wolves of Wall Street while simultaneously taking their money. Here in Connecticut, Dan Malloy bills himself as the gun-control governor, yet gave millions of taxpayer dollars to bring Bass Pro Shops—one of the nation’s largest firearms retailers—to Bridgeport, so he could brag about how many jobs his administration has “created.”

I couldn’t handle the headaches that must come from being a Democratic politician, caught in such a web of conflicting interests. Sucking up to so many different groups must be maddening. In my opinion, it’s far easier—and more satisfying—to stick to principle.

Nowhere is Democrat hypocrisy on greater display than in economic and fiscal policy. When they campaign, Democrats pledge to soak the rich and redistribute their money to the poor in the form of transfer payments, needless public sector employment, or infrastructure boondoggles like the New Britain to Hartford busway.

Once in office, these politicians quickly learn that they can’t raise taxes indiscriminately in a free society and expect wealthy people and successful businesses to stay put. So when the need for more state revenue forces tax rates up, certain favored businesses and industries get special credits and other forms of corporate welfare to keep them here.

Connecticut has an unfortunate reputation for playing this game, which encourages some businesses to take advantage of us, and others to opt out of such nonsense. As everyone knows, General Electric is considering relocation to a state with a more business-friendly (read conservative) government. It’s not just that our policy is bad—it’s also unpredictable.

To be fair, a growing number of Democrats are outright socialists of the Bernie Sanders and Robert Reich variety, and disgusted by this two-timing hypocrisy. Their solution would be to impoverish us all for the sake of punishing the wealthy: a terrible idea, but at least they’re consistent. Malloy and Clinton (and most of Connecticut’s Democratic state legislators) haven’t really thought it through, and simply want it both ways. They tax with the right hand and bribe with the left.

This dynamic leads self-interested mega-corporations to pony up for the Democrats when it comes time for campaign contributions. Unfortunately, it makes sense for them. If you were a very powerful corporation, would you rather have a lower tax rate that helps both you and your competitors, or a special tax break that works to your advantage alone?

Needless to say, this is a terrible way to run an economy, both unsustainable and wrong. The end result is an unholy alliance of big government with a powerful business elite; Mussolini would feel right at home with that.