“We will eliminate as many special interest provisions and loopholes as possible and curb corporate welfare, especially where their erosion of the tax base has created pressure for higher rates.” ~ 2016 Republican Party Platform

Background

Joel Miller’s INFORMCOS.com website recently published a short video rant by El Paso County Commissioner Mark Waller, blasting his critics for pointing out his (and other Commissioners’) corruption, corporate welfare, and crony capitalism.

crony capitalism

Corporate Welfare

Waller and the other so-called “Republican” Commissioners have never met a tax hike they didn’t like and recently lied to the voters about a dire need to raise sales taxes to fund the Sheriff’s Office. That funding should have come from the General Fund, but they really needed to fence-off massive amounts of GF money in order to engage in a pay-for-play scheme with local developers. Hence the unnecessary tax.

Within two weeks of securing voter approval of the tax hike through deception, the Commissioners voted to transfer some $40 MILLION in taxes to two private business entities. All five Commissioners and the two incoming Commissioners took campaign cash from developers.

By the way, voters have one last chance before December 11th to turn off this tax hijack. Please visit INFORMCOS.com where Joel Miller lays out the details and gives you the contact information to make your voice heard.

Welcome to Waller’s World

waller's world

Waller’s World

In his rant, Waller defends corporate welfare, curiously trying to make the case that crony capitalism is the conservative thing to do. As the opening quote above from the RNC’s national platform in 2016 states, it is hardly a Republican value let alone a reflection of conservatism.

Interestingly, the RNC cautions that crony capitalism is especially worrisome when it erodes the tax base and increases pressure for higher taxes. But that’s exactly what the BoCC has done, all while lying to the voters.

The transfer of taxpayer money to private developers was a $40M erosion of the tax base, and the Public Safety Sales Tax for the Sheriff’s Office became the higher taxes the BoCC needed to offset the self-made erosion. The PSST is exactly the kind of “higher taxes” our own party warns against.

But things are different in Waller’s World, as evidenced by his bizarre rant. In his world:

  • Corporate Welfare = Conservatism
  • Crony Capitalism = Conservatism
  • Corruption = Conservatism
  • Pay-for-Play = Conservatism

And if you don’t agree, he’ll attack your free speech for saying so. Seeing how the RNC also opposes the BoCC’s corporate welfare, will Waller take to the floor of the BoCC and condemn the national Republican Party?

Official Republican Position on Corporate Welfare

The official 2016 RNC platform can be found here, and in it, the party expands upon the snippet I included above. By the way, keep in mind that the 2016 RNC, much like the RNC of today, is hardly a bastion of conservatism. It is populated with and controlled by establishment moderates, center-left RINOs, who prefer to reach across the aisle and make deals rather than to fight for conservative principles. Much like the Colorado GOP party apparatchiks who botched the recent general election.

If the RINO RNC condemns crony capitalism, then where does that put Waller and the other four Commissioners? Far left of center, it would appear. I’ll circle back to this in a bit.

In the platform, we also find,

“When government uses taxpayer funding and resources to give special advantages to private companies, it distorts the free market and erodes public trust in our political system. By enlarging the scope of government and placing enormous power in the hands of bureaucrats, it multiplies opportunities for corruption and favoritism.” ~ 2016 Republican Party Platform

When public trust is eroded, citizens complain. But in Waller’s World, the free exercise of speech – i.e., complaint – draws his scorn. By the way, disrespecting free speech rights is also hardly a conservative value.

Further, the RNC states,

“Crony capitalism gives us special interest tax breaks, custom-designed regulations, and special exemptions for favored parties. It creates both subsidies and restrictions to tilt the market one way or the other. By putting the weight of government behind the status quo, it leads to economic stagnation.” ~ 2016 Republican Party Platform

The two private sector businesses who will benefit from Waller’s and the other Commissioners’ crony capitalism are the Marriott Hotel enterprise and Nor’wood development. They will receive 100% of increased sales and property taxes for the next 25 years. If that’s not tilting the market in their favor, and their favor only, then I don’t know what is.

How can other private enterprise even hope to compete in this environment? Waller wants you to believe that this “freakin’ great deal” will lead to jobs, but even the RNC cautions it leads to economic stagnation.

Finally, the RNC gives us this bit of wisdom,

“Cronyism is inherent in the progressive vision of the administrative state.” ~ 2016 Republican Party Platform

Progressive vision means liberal vision. Accordingly, the corruption and corporate welfare the BoCC approved is liberal governance. When you consider that it is rejected by the Republican Party, then it’s not a stretch to see this as the behavior of liberal Democrats.

Waller can bristle all he wants at being called out for what he and the other Commissioners actually do and how they actually behave. But feigned outrage won’t change reality…the BoCC are governing like liberal Democrats. The easiest way to unearn the label is to start acting like the conservative Republicans they campaigned as and claim to be.

Calling the Commissioners Liberal Democrats is Being Charitable

Adam Smith was an 18th Century Scottish economist who is widely hailed for his conservative approach to free market capitalism. He wrote extensively about the interaction between government and the private sector, eschewing corruption and cronyism. He once wrote,

“The system of natural liberty is challenged by equally natural tendencies toward corruption, tendencies that lead private interests and even government interests to push strongly against the free market.” ~ Adam Smith, 1776

In short, he condemned exactly what Waller and the other Commissioners foisted upon the taxpayers with this sweetheart deal. Their corporate welfare scheme is inherently corrupt and it pushes against the local free market.

In a recent article in the Hill, the authors took a more jaundiced view of crony capitalism. In their argument, corporate welfare is an artificial manipulation of the free market. At the far-left end of that spectrum is socialism where government takes ownership of the private sector. According to the Hill, corporate welfare is “socialism lite.”

Are the Commissioners liberal Democrats? Socialists-lite? Voters can be the judge.

Let’s Talk About Free Speech

True conservatives cherish the Constitution, especially the Bill of Rights where the First Amendment’s free speech rights are guaranteed. That Waller would take to the well of the BoCC to condemn his critics for exercising free speech is chilling.

It reminded me of the time Democrat Harry Reid, at the time the Majority Leader, took to the Senate floor to publicly rebuke conservative radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh for his free speech criticizing Reid. The parallels between “Dingy” Harry Reid — an infamous rabid leftist — and Mark Waller are more than coincidental.

Limbaugh turned it around on Reid, thoroughly humiliating him in the end, all while fundraising off Reid’s assault on his rights.

A Challenge and Some Homework

crony capitalism

Return Campaign Donations

The Commissioners, those sitting and the two newly-elected ones, can begin to repair public trust by returning all campaign donations from developers and vowing never to take any in the future. Follow that up with a reversal of the tax schemes they just voted for and a new ballot measure to end the Public Safety Tax.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the BoCC were to fund necessary functions of government, like public safety, without the artificial and perverse need to raise taxes based upon lies?

Finally, I recommend the County Commissioners – Waller in particular – do some reading. First, read the RNC platform in detail and learn where they are far left of even the left-of-center moderates who run the party.

Second, read the Constitution, at least the Bill of Rights. Respect it. Cherish it. They will at least sound more conservative if they do (even if they are not).

Finally, read Adam Smith’s book, The Wealth of Nations. Learn what the free market really means and why what they are doing in Waller’s World is anything but free market capitalism or even remotely conservative.