Boaz: Ted Cruz says the quiet part out loud
By David Boaz |
Sen. Ted Cruz has harsh words in the Wall Street Journal for “woke” CEOs who criticize the new Georgia election law. But he doesn’t stop with a defense of the law or a recommendation that the CEOs stick to business. No, this paragon of limited government is threatening to hurt companies who express opinions he disagrees with:
“This is the point in the drama when Republicans usually shrug their shoulders, call these companies “job creators,” and start to cut their taxes. Not this time.
“This time, we won’t look the other way on Coca-Cola’s $12 billion in back taxes owed. This time, when Major League Baseball lobbies to preserve its multibillion‐ dollar antitrust exception, we’ll say no thank you. This time, when Boeing asks for billions in corporate welfare, we’ll simply let the Export‐ Import Bank expire.…
“Enough is enough. Corporations that flagrantly misrepresent efforts to protect our elections need to be called out, singled out and cut off.…
“To them I say: When the time comes that you need help with a tax break or a regulatory change, I hope the Democrats take your calls, because we may not.“
That’s breathtaking. As they say, he’s saying the quiet part out loud. We all suspect that politicians of both parties use tax money and the regulatory apparatus to reward their friends and hurt their opponents. Indeed, the most honest politician in history might have been Lord Bolingbroke, an English Tory leader in the eighteenth century, who wrote in a letter to a friend:
“I am afraid that we came to Court in the same dispositions as all parties have done; that the principal spring of our actions was to have the government of the state in our hands; that our principal views were the conservation of this power, great employments to ourselves, and great opportunities of rewarding those who had helped to raise us and of hurting those who stood in opposition to us.“
And that’s exactly what Cruz now tells us he does. He is saying that he and his Republican friends have given businesses tax breaks, antitrust exemptions, and Ex‐ Im subsidies because the corporations made political contributions. But now that’s not enough: if the corporations don’t shut up about politics, they’ll get no more benefits from Republican officials.
Cruz is no machine hack nor a naive Mr. Smith plucked straight from the Boy Rangers. He’s a graduate of Harvard Law School who has been a clerk for Chief Justice Rehnquist, an associate deputy attorney general, and solicitor general of Texas. He wrote his senior thesis at Princeton on the Constitution. He might even have read Lord Bolingbroke, as I did, in Political Writers of Eighteenth‐ Century England edited by Jeffrey Hart. He professes, credibly, to have read Friedman and Hayek (who would have advised him to cut off the export subsidies on principle). He is thoroughly familiar with law and economics. So he knows just how bad his admission is, how corrupt he would declare it if a Democrat said something similar.
One might say that Cruz is engaging in “cancel culture,” but that would minimize the offense. Cruz is not a university, publishing house, or student speakers committee. He’s one of 100 United States senators, entrusted by the voters to exercise judgment on public matters under the Constitution.
He has failed to live up to that standard.
David Boaz is the executive vice president of the Cato Institute and has played a key role in the development of the Cato Institute and the libertarian movement.