Tuesday, September 19, 2006

The Republican Business Model: Caring for Cronies

I've been thinking about the Republican business model as it applies to governing at the federal level. There are some prime examples where the emergence of that model becomes clear: Iraq, Medicare prescription drug program, FEMA/disaster recovery, energy policy and other areas of focus of this administration.

Corruption is definitely a core piece of the business model.

However, the model itself looks to me to be something like this: identify an issue/challenge/policy; propose/pretend to address it; initiate action, the prime efficiency of which is to enrich your cronies and patrons.

In Iraq, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) was flooded with cronies, had great power, but the real money was made by the contractors. That continues in Iraq today long after the CPA has disappeared.

The Medicare prescription drug program gets prescription drugs to seniors, but the primary beneficiaries are the insurance companies selling plans and the pharmaceutical industry selling the drugs at taxpayer expense at rates they solely determine (remember, the government can't negotiate on prices).

FEMA's response to both Katrina and Rita (remember Rita? One-year anniversary coming up this weekend) was more of the same. The prime beneficiaries were the Halliburtons of the world who got no bid contracts to handle aspects of the cleanup/recovery. While residents across the northern Gulf of Mexico, individuals, families, communities and businesses continue to struggle to recover, the contractors have been rewarded with another round of no-bid contracts from FEMA.

Energy policy is explicitly corrupt. Bush/Cheney energy policies have resulted in record high prices and record profits for oil companies. In their eyes (and the eyes of the energy companies) the policy is a smashing success.

The use of a business model template is useful because it helps anticipate how emerging policy initiatives of the administration will actually turn out. Apply this business model to Bush's renewed vow to privatize Social Security and it becomes apparent that the fate of retirees will be substantially less secure, but the financial services companies will make a killing.

The Republican-controlled Congress gave it's approval to this approach (at least indirectly) through its failure to provide any meaningful oversight to any of the administration's policies and programs during the nearly six years it has been in power.

This was cross-posted as a comment at TPM Café:

And at Bloggin for Mike:

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