Big Biz Made a Bargain With the GOP's Devils. Here Comes the Bill.

Big business is finally figuring out what Democrats have been saying since the worst days of George W: that the genius idea of Bush's brain, Karl Rove, was a Faustian bargain with that powerful and elusive element of American political landscape -- the ignorati.

Now the ignorati are demanding their due.

The New York Times today carries a fascinating story in which outfits like the National Association of Manufacturers and Associated General Contractors -- huge supporters of the GOP -- are wailing about what the GOP is now doing to them.

With all that big business cash safely deposited in campaign and PAC accounts, the Tea Party wing in the House is now threatening to virtually destroy American exports by taking apart the U.S. Export-Import Bank. The bank, created in 1934 to finance deals with our then ally, the Soviet Union, is a favorite target of the new paranoia wing of the GOP, who think it's a commie-socialist intrusion on the free market.

But the people who actually sell overseas say the bank is a crucial function of government without which they cannot survive. The Times story quotes a guy whose company sells crop-dusters saying no private sector banking institution in the country can or will ever step in to finance the foreign deals that the Ex-Im Bank has always done: "There is not a free-market system that operates like that," says Daviod Ickert of Air Tractor. "It does not exist. We need the Ex-Im Bank, period."

Oh my God, a socialist! Man the pitchforks!

Other countries have vigorous versions of our Ex-Im Bank. In the way of the world, about two seconds after we kill our own foreign trade bank, competitors in those other countries will jump in and grab our trade away from us -- not a pleasant prospect for the major business groups quoted in the story.

Yeah, well, you guys did this to yourselves. You fueled the Rovian bargain. And we can sort of see it. It probably seemed like a brilliantly simple answer to an otherwise impossible question: How can the GOP get the American middle and working classes to screw themselves?

Easy, the Rovians said. Every time you see a working- or middle-class person about to perceive his own true self-interest, you start screaming, "Watch out! Watch out! Two gay guys in Baltimore are about to kiss!"

By stirring up the gunk at the very bottom of the Jungian psychological pot, the Rovians were able to get George W. elected -- well, that and stealing some votes. In the process they helped fuel the whole hate-the-future movement now known as the Tea Party.

Guess what, Mr. Smarty-Pants Faust: Those demons hate you, too, because you do business with foreigners. They don't like foreigners, remember? They don't like persons of color in high office. They don't like women much. And they don't like you, you bunch of foreign-trading socialists.

It's those GOP Tea Partiers in the House who are behind the move to kill the Ex-Im Bank, not to mention several other Cro-Magnon concepts for turning America into a third-rate power.

Hey, we here in Texas -- the place where Rove learned his craft, after all -- could have told you all about this. Our own governor, Rick Perry, embraced the Tea Party in the 2010 GOP gubernatorial primary to great effect, allowing him to come from way behind and defeat one your old-fashioned pro-business Republicans, Kay Bailey Hutchison. Of course Perry said he was pro-business, too, but business leaders here knew better.

If Perry's pet plan to gut the state's top research universities were ever to become a reality, it would crater all of the work the state's top business leaders accomplished in the 1990s to diversify the state economy by recruiting knowledge-based industries.

It was business leaders in Dallas and Fort Worth who provided the ultimate ammunition to defeat Perry's plan to build a massive new transportation corridor from Mexico to Oklahoma and not because they hated the concept itself. The thing they did hate was Perry's own utter disdain for political compromise or consensus-building -- oh, that, and the fact that the thing was going to cut off and starve huge shipping hubs in both cities.

But that's what you get when you sell your soul to the ideologues. Ideologues don't do business. They do True Belief. Whole industries crashing and burning is the glare they crave -- their burning bush, no pun.

So now here you are, Mr. and Ms. Business Leader, stuck on the airplane of life in a seat next to an old dude in a tricorn hat who will pause from his spit-flinging rant about the Trilateral Commission only long enough to ask again you why drink scotch that was made in a foreign country.

Welcome to your own nightmare, Binky. Have a safe flight.

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Jim Schutze has been the city columnist for the Dallas Observer since 1998. He has been a recipient of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ national award for best commentary and Lincoln University’s national Unity Award for writing on civil rights and racial issues. In 2011 he was admitted to the Texas Institute of Letters.
Contact: Jim Schutze

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