Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) spoke about the problems of cronyism in American government during a speech he gave at the Heritage Foundation Wednesday.
"Cronyism simultaneously corrupts our economy and our government, turning both against the American people," Lee said. "It forces American families who ‘work hard and play by the rules’ to prop up, bail out, and subsidize elite special interests that don’t."
Cronyism is leading to unequal opportunity in the United States. Lee said the GOP must address this threat to American exceptionalism by rooting out cronyism privilege and restoring fairness.
"Free enterprise works—morally and materially—because it aligns the interests of the individual and society," Lee said. "It’s a system governed by an ‘invisible hand’ that rewards the creation of value, and by an ‘invisible foot’ that punishes complacency, especially at the top."
Lee went after both indirect and direct subsidies in his speech.
Direct subsidies, such as those given to farmers, are contributing to unequal opportunity, according to Lee. Seventy-five percent of agricultural subsidies go to the top 10 percent of recipients.
Lee also harshly criticized indirect subsidies, specifically loan guarantees issued by the Export-Import bank.
"Here again, more than three-quarters of Ex-Im’s billions of dollars in loan guarantees go to just three corporations that are perfectly capable of securing private financing anywhere in the world," Lee said.
Additionally, Lee attacked complicated regulations that harm competition from smaller, younger companies while aiding larger firms.
Lee also went after occupational licensing. Occupational licensing in trades such as hair-braiding, eye-brow threading, massage therapy, and fortune telling is excluding lower-skilled workers and keeping prices artificially high, he said.
Lee also criticized the "epic cronyist disaster," Obamacare, which privileges certain corporations while penalizing Americans who do not buy their health insurance, subsidizes the purchase of some of these products, protects the corporations from competition, and "may even guarantee those corporations’ survival."
Lee praised several GOP congressmen who are proposing bills that would work toward putting an end to cronyism, such as Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R., Texas), who is fighting the reauthorization of the Ex-Im Bank, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), who has proposed a pro-growth tax reform proposal that would eliminate special interest privilege.
Lee closed his speech with a cohesive message the GOP could use: "a commitment to economic fairness and competition at the top of our economy to help restore jobs, growth, mobility, and opportunity to the poor and middle class."