The Golden Age Of Rent-Seeking?

by Patrick Appel

Douthat reviews Tim Carney’s new book:

[Carney's] argument isn’t that G.E. (or Pfizer, or Chevron, or Goldman Sachs) has a liberal agenda, necessarily; it’s that corporations have a rent-seeking agenda, and the rents in the age of Obama are very rich indeed.

Such rent-seeking doesn’t always translate into support for the administration’s policies. The business/government nexus is more potent on some issues than on others, and the “business community” is hardly a monolith. (Different industries have different interests, and rival companies often want different things from Washington.) Corporate America has been divided on cap and trade, for instance, and the health insurance industry has played a double game on health care reform (now trying to shape the bill to their liking, now trying to stir up public anxiety about it) that’s so complicated I’m not sure even they understand it. And of course, as Carney would be the first to admit, the Republican Party is hardly offering some pristine free-market alternative at the moment and it certainly wasn’t in the Bush era. (See this exchange between Matt Yglesias and Carney for more on some of these issues.)