By Nolan Finley
Big Gov’t vs. Big Biz in 2012
Next year’s presidential election won’t be about personalities — it’ll be a battle between Big Government and Big Business.
And whoever controls the finger of blame will likely come out on top.
President Barack Obama is standing on Al Gore’s old “People versus the Powerful” platform to convince voters the economic mess he’s presided over for nearly three years is not his fault — the culprits are the “Fat Cats” (his words), the CEOs, Wall Street brokers and wealthy layabouts who’ve stolen the jobs and paychecks of the middle class.
And although voters thought last year that it was smaller government they wanted, Obama’s pitch is that what they really need is a larger, more potent government to stand between them and the robber barons.
He’s getting a boost from the small but noisy Occupy Wall Street movement, which his media allies are covering 24/7. They’re only too eager to help him turn the conversation away from the failings of government and toward the failings of business.
This new “mad as hell” crowd has an edge to it, and lets the media get back to a story line it loves — that there are two Americas, one for the privileged and one for everyone else, and the lines never cross.
Voters usually reject this sort of class warfare.
But in persistently hard times, it’s easy to blame those with more power and more money.
To counter, Republicans have to play, “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”
The answer is “everyone.”
Americans have a primal quest for wealth. It’s what made us the most prosperous people on Earth, and the most innovative.
Business makes millionaires, government doesn’t — except for the politicians and their friends who abuse the public trust.
Obama is offering policies that destroy wealth. There are fewer millionaires today than when he took office.
Republicans succeed if they make Americans believe again that they can roll the dice and win.
When people stop believing in their opportunity to hit the jackpot, they turn to the security of the nanny state.
The challenge for the GOP will be to remind voters of the everyday incompetence and inefficiency of government, and that every dollar it squanders comes out of their pockets.
Making government larger and more powerful means even more wasted dollars.
Republicans also have to make a stronger case for free markets and private initiative.
Explain basic economics. Profits aren’t evil; they keep factory and office doors open. (We learned the hard way in Michigan what happens when profits disappear.)
A corporation that pays less in taxes has more to spend on jobs and salaries.
And “fair share” doesn’t mean anywhere near the 50 percent of wealth Obama hopes to confiscate.
Big Business has its flaws and its scoundrels.
But stack them up next to those of Big Government and business wins in a landslide.
Nolan Finley is editorial page editor of The News.