Running Against Regulation

If the GOP went anti-corporate, how would it look? And what current opportunities might there be for candidates on the right to position themselves in opposition to corporate influence without buying into traditional tax-and-regulate schemes? As Reihan and Jim Manzi have already noted here, climate change and energy regulation certainly provide potential starting points— the energy sector regulatory system is positively designed to be gamed by interested corporations. The upcoming FHA housing reform legislation, which has been endorsed by at least one lending company that stands to gain substantially from the deal, is another.

But I wonder if the best place to start, at least in the current political environment and with the current crop of political candidates, wouldn’t be with health care. Clearly, it would make sense for John McCain, who has a reflexively market-oriented (if not always fully cogent) take on the issue as well as an instinctive distaste for corporate influence. I was surprised during the SCHIP debate last fall that there wasn’t a greater push by the right to paint the program as a handout to self-interested insurance companies; certainly there were quite a few who would’ve stood to gain from it. Frustration with health insurance companies is already pretty high, and attacking their influence on the legislative process seems likely to be more effective than simply taking the usual individual choice/tax hikes route.

I probably should’ve said this before, but the first thing any candidate (or anyone else, for that matter) interested in this approach should do is read my friend Tim Carney’s book, The Big Ripoff. It’s something of an understatement to say he’s been a substantial influence in my thinking on these matters.