Journalists Left and Right are increasingly noting the difference between being "pro-business" and being "pro-market" -- distinction sorely needed in the current debate about whether President Obama is "anti-business."
Reuters columnist Jim Pethokoukis writes:
Should the Obamacrats be friendlier to Corporate America? Big Business has certainly amped up its kvetching of late. But it’s not Washington’s job to be pro-business and make nice with CEOs. That smells of crony capitalism and often just means rewarding big campaign contributors with government favors. The better measure of any given Washington policy is whether it respects markets.
If you read my books, columns, or blog posts, you're very familiar with these distinctions, but Pethokoukis explains it well:
Yet while a pro-business agenda may intersect at points with a pro-market one, they are not the same thing. Pro-market public policies make markets function fairer and more efficiently for everyone. They encourage competition and “creative destruction” and entrepreneurial capitalism. Pro-business policies often shift taxpayer money and other government goodies to favored companies, raise barriers to entry and otherwise defend the status quo.
Liberal blogger Kevin Drum at Mother Jones agrees in part with Pethokoukis and points out areas of potential Left-Right cooperation:
The Republican Party has long been pro-business, not pro-free-market, and the same is largely true for the Democratic Party these days. And while liberals are unlikely to ever team up with conservatives on a pro-business agenda, which generally just means handing out goodies to favored patrons, I think a pretty sizeable number would be willing to team up on some aspects of a pro-market agenda if that were actually on the table.
I'm a big believer in Left-Right cooperation on battling subsidies and corporate welfare. But most of Congress is on the other side.