Under Obama, the return of crony capitalism

As my Washington Examiner colleague Timothy Carney has been documenting, Big Business has been busy lobbying Big Government for “reforms” that serve big companies’ interests. Wal-Mart backs a health care mandate, Philip Morris shapes tobacco regulation, General Electric is setting up a joint venture to trade carbon offsets (wasn’t that Enron’s line of work back in the day?).

The picture is not pretty. Government’s pets — or, in the president’s words, “savvy businessmen” — use government to get policies that will give them competitive advantages and stifle smaller competitors. Pleasing their masters in government is now absorbing the psychic energy of CEOs who used to concentrate on meeting consumers’ needs in order to make profits.

Back in the 1940s, there was an excuse for crony capitalism — there was a war on. And FDR had a gift for picking people who, like Kaiser, delivered the goods. Today, that excuse is not available, and it’s far from apparent that Obama has that gift.