Thomas Frank: Watch out for GOP Populism

In today’s Wall Street Journal, Thomas Frank profiles Republican House member Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, who’s adopted some fist-shaking anti-big-business rhetoric that would make some lefties weak at the knees.  More tellingly, he’s critical of business at a time when Democrats shy from economic populism, perhaps compromised by their role in giving vast handouts to the major banks, insurance and auto companies.

Frank notes:

He [Rep. Ryan] savages “crony capitalism,” pausing to note the “resentment” it is inspiring. He depicts the Troubled Asset Relief Program, better known as TARP, as a well-intentioned measure that has become “an ad hoc, opaque slush fund for large institutions that are able to influence the Treasury Department’s investment decisions behind-the-scenes.” He complains about lobbying, offers the obligatory denunciation of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan, and bemoans the economic disasters befalling small companies while the rescued banks enjoy “record profits.”

Had he stopped there, Mr. Ryan might have become my favorite Republican since William Allen White.

Of course, there’s a catch.  Go here to read the complete editorial.

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