The Path to Corporate Welfare is Paved with Essential Legislation

I had meant to blog about this passage in the New York Times, but I'm a lazy blogger these days and Tyler got to it and ably noted the “Nice place you got here. Would be a shame if something happened to it,” tone of Daschle and Baucus. I want to mention one further thing. When I talk to folks on the left, a lot of them really earnestly claim to deplore corporate welfare. But, when it came down to it, a lot of those same folks wanted to brag about promising to deliver corporate welfare to Wal-Mart. What gives? It makes me wonder how they think corporate welfare happens? Do they think it's usually not as part of some legislative quid pro quo? Maybe the idea is that Wal-Mart publicly backing a coverage mandate in exchange for nixing a requirement to kick in for employees on Medicaid does not count as corporate welfare because the overall legislative aim is worth it. But, of course, once you count in the full set of deals, the actual legislation probably won't be worth it for anybody but the parties to the deals. You can see Daschle and Baucus as craftily strong-arming corporations and interest groups into getting with the plan. (I guess that's how they like to see themselves.) Or you can see corporations and and interest groups strong-arming Congress (or manipulating the vanity of congressional powerbrokers) for advantageous regulation. It is, of course, both. When corporations see that politicians plan to get their pound of flesh, they maneuver to give half a pound in exchange for a deal where their competitors give two.