Trump is Crony-in-Chief

Rather consistently through the past campaign season, many conservative/libertarian commentators noted that Trump had no deep-rooted allegiance to free markets or limited government. Example, from Jonah Goldberg:

I think he’s a vain ignoramus and bully who mocks the disabled with a long history of exploiting and abusing the little guy. His instincts are nationalistic and authoritarian, not patriotic and liberty-loving.

Or Keith Hennesey:

His ignorance of economic and national security issues is breathtaking. He makes up most of his policy views on the fly in interviews. He knows far less about policy than does a regular Wall Street Journal reader, and he cannot hold a coherent in-depth conversation about the economy or America’s role in the world. […] He is faking it on policy, and not that well.

Here's what I have to say three weeks into the Trump Administration: those guys were totally correct.

A relatively new data point: Trump is apparently pulling a switcheroo on the Export-Import Bank, that semi-endangered outpost of corrupt cronyism. In case you need reminding, here's Veronique de Rugy (writing in those heady days of 2015 when Ex-Im seemed doomed):

Contrary to lobbyist talking points, the Ex-Im Bank is firmly in the “big business” business. On the domestic side, 40 percent of its activities benefit one giant company: Boeing. Over 60 percent of the bank’s financing aids 10 giant beneficiaries, like Caterpillar, Bechtel, and General Electric. On the foreign side, the cheap loans go to state-owned companies like Pemex, the Mexican government’s oil and gas giant, or Air Emirates, the airline of the wealthy United Arab Emirates.

Oh, sure. Trump made occasional free-market noises during the campaign:

TRUMP: I don’t like [the Export-Import Bank] because I don’t think it’s necessary. It’s a one-way street also. It’s sort of a feather bedding for politicians and others, and a few companies. And these are companies that can do very well without it. So I don’t like it. I think it’s a lot of excess baggage. I think it’s unnecessary.

But that was then, this is now:

A Senate Democrat said Thursday that President Trump has agreed to restore full lending powers to the Export-Import Bank, an about-face from his campaign rhetoric.

Almost certainly there will now be enough support from "moderate" Democrats and Republicans in Congress to fully resuscitate Ex-Im.

My regrets to the conservative/libertarian Trump supporters. Those bloodstains from where you were stabbed in the back are gonna be tough to wash out.