Udall, Schaffer Offer Dueling Federal Controls

It comes as no surprise that Mark Udall is a pragmatic statist. He writes for the Denver Post, “I voted against the $700 billion bailout for Wall Street not because of any ideological opposition to federal intervention, or because of a blind faith in free markets…” We wouldn’t want to base any decisions on ideas! Notice that Udall believes that one can only advocate free markets from faith. He blames the crisis on “greed and lack of oversight on Wall Street,” rather than on the actual causes: a collection of federal controls that encouraged and even mandated risky lending. The only point about which Udall is certain is that the economy “requires government action.” He offers no reasons for this. (Obviously, Udall has not learned the lessons from the bailout that I hoped he would.)

So Udall’s opponent for the U.S. Senate, Bob Schaffer, is the “free market” alternative, right? Nope. Schaffer is more blunt about the causes of the economic crisis. “For years, liberal politicians have mandated the risky lending practices that brought us to our knees,” such as the government-sponsored Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. And he rightly points out that the federal response to the federally-caused crisis is to inflate the money supply, which “hurts middle-class Colorado families and the poor the most.”

And Schaffer pays lip service to a “a free-flowing marketplace.” He suggests that he would cut some taxes and roll back government controls such as the Community Reinvestment Act. But he squishes pretty quickly, invoking “a 21st century regulatory structure for a 21st century marketplace and financial system.” Well, what in the hell is that?

Schaffer told the Rocky Mountain News that he wants a “refereed private sector.” Refereed by whom? By federal politicians and bureaucrats. Notice that Schaffer never draws a distinction between the government’s proper role of protecting individual rights — by upholding property and freedom of contract and by rooting out force and fraud — and government actions that violate individual rights.

Diana Hsieh summarizes, “Bob Schaffer advocates a ‘refereed private sector’ — i.e. an economy controlled and managed by politicians and bureaucrats. He even supports antitrust lawsuits against health insurance companies. Despite the vocal claims of his advocates, he is no friend of capitalism.”

In many ways, those who claim to support “free markets” but who in fact advocate economic controls are worse than those who, like Udall, openly declare their statist leanings. At least Udall doesn’t conflate the “free-flowing marketplace” with federal control of the economy.

Add to that Schaffer’s faith-based politics, and he is hardly an appealing candidate for lovers of liberty.