Emergence of Palinomics hints at populist 2012 run
With U.S. midterm elections over, it’s now the start of the U.S. presidential campaign for 2012. That may explain why Sarah Palin is suddenly opining on monetary policy and the dollar. The emergence of Palinomics suggests a run by the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee could feature critiques of banks and the Federal Reserve, as well as of President Barack Obama.
In a speech and a pair of Facebook postings this week, Palin unexpectedly warned her followers about the inflationary dangers of the Fed’s “pump-priming addiction” — a reference to the latest round of bond-buying by the U.S. central bank, known as quantitative easing. That’s hardly a novel critique. Many conservatives, and even some Fed officials, share Palin’s unease.
It’s the politics and timing rather than the substance that is raising eyebrows. Avid Palin-watchers see her move into economic commentary as further evidence of a run for the White House. Indeed, the campaign team for putative Republican frontrunner and former banker Mitt Romney is assuming she will be in the race. And her upcoming, much-hyped reality television show, “Sarah Palin’s Alaska,” will no doubt play like an extended campaign commercial.
If Palin does run, her views leave her — not for the first time — well positioned to exploit the zeitgeist. Voters right now seem dubious of Big Anything, be it Government, Business or Money. In her 2009 book, “Going Rogue,” Palin offered a rehash of 1980s Reaganomics — low taxes, less government spending, strong dollar. That’s in sync with her recent Fed-bashing. But she also attacked “corporatism” in which government and business conspire against entrepreneurs and consumers. This view fuels Palin’s critique of Obama’s financial reform plan, which she portrays as a creation of Wall Street designed to perpetuate bank bailouts.
Palinomics seems to be rooted in “free-market populism,” a version of conservative thinking that is pro-market rather than pro-business. Palin is a big fan of one of its champions, the University of Chicago’s Luigi Zingales. So it’s easy to imagine her campaigning against corporate tax breaks, say, or in favor of limiting the size of banks. That might not attract much campaign cash from Manhattan bankers or Washington lobbyists, but it could be a compelling formula in the new Tea Party-infused Republican party.