By David Boaz
Tim Carney has a blog post at the Examiner that’s worth quoting in full:
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has issued its 2009 congressional scorecard, and once again, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Tex. — certainly one of the two most free-market politicians in Washington — gets the lowest score of any Republican.
Paul was one of a handful of GOP lawmakers not to win the Chamber’s “Spirit of Enterprise Award.” He scored only a 67%, bucking the Chamber on five votes, including:
-- Paul opposed the “Solar Technology Roadmap Act,” which boosted subsidies for unprofitable solar energy technology.
-- Paul opposed the “Travel Promotion Act,” which subsidizes the tourism industry with a new fee on international visitors.
-- Paul opposed the largest spending bill in history, Obama’s $787 billion stimulus bill.
(Rep John Duncan, R-Tenn., tied Ron Paul with 67%. John McHugh, R-N.Y., scored a 40%, but he missed most of the year because he went off to the Obama administration.)
I wrote about this phenomenon last year, when the divergence was even greater between the Chamber’s agenda and the free-market agenda:
Similarly, Texas libertarian GOPer Rep. Ron Paul—the most steadfast congressional opponent of regulation, taxation, and any sort of government intervention in business—scored lower than 90% of Democrats last year on the Chamber’s scorecard.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., had the most conservative voting record in 2008 according to the American Conservative Union (ACU), and was a “taxpayer hero” according to the National Taxpayer’s Union (NTU), but the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says his 2008 record was less pro-business than Barack Obama, Joe Biden, and Hillary Clinton.
This year’s picture was less glaring, but it’s still more evidence that “pro-business” is not the same as “pro-freedom.” The U.S. Chamber is the former. Ron Paul, and the libertarian position, is the latter.
I suspect that on issues such as free trade agreements and immigration reform, I might be closer to the Chamber’s position than to Ron Paul’s. But to suggest that Paul is wrong to vote against business subsidies — or that DeMint was wrong to vote against Bush’s 2008 stimulus package and the $700 billion TARP bailout – certainly does illustrate how much difference there can be between “pro-business” and “pro-market.” Instead of “Spirit of Enterprise,” the Chamber should call these the “Spirit of Subsidy Awards.”