One of the things that can make increased government involvement in the economy difficult to curb is that it is not just Democratic politicians who promote it. So, for example, it was President Bush and his treasury secretary, Henry Paulson, Republicans, who seized Fannie Mae and AIG and proposed the TARP and began the bailout of the automakers. The latest example of Republican interference in free markets is a letter from the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Charles Grassley, to Secretary of State Clinton and to the U.S. trade representative. Mr. Grassley's letter indicates he wants to hold up the nomination of the American ambassador to Brazil until the Obama administration promises to support the existing tariff on imported ethanol. That tariff is a) a tax and b) a protectionist interference with free trade and c) also, but less pertinent to the matter of government involvement in the economy, for those who are concerned about such things, a barrier to reducing American dependence on foreign oil with its climate-change effects. Sometimes it seems like free markets aren't a Republican-versus-Democrat issue but a politicians-versus-the-rest-of-us issue.
For what it is worth, Mr. Grassley, of Iowa, represents a lot of corn farmers who don't want competition from Brazilian ethanol. As President Obama, of Illinois, used to represent a lot of them, too, when he was in the Senate. As Mr. Grassley's letter notes, Mr. Obama supported the ethanol tariff as a senator.