A crack dealer, they used to tell me in elementary school, would give me the first hit for free — because once I was hooked, he knew I would pay any price to get it.

The federal government plays the same game, but it works like this: Washington creates corporate welfare programs that hand taxpayer money to companies for things like exporting, building windmills or hiring people. Corporations love this free cash, and they lobby to preserve it. Then Washington places conditions on this cash, thus helping steer corporations to do what politicians want them to do.

The Obama administration has accelerated export subsidies to record levels over the past five years. This month, the administration announced new restrictions on subsidies for coal-related exports.

This is part of Obama's war on coal. The interesting thing is that Obama wouldn't have this weapon if not for the big business lobby.

To put a finer point on it: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce lobbied aggressively to save the Export-Import Bank; now Ex-Im is a tool in Obama's Chamber-maligned campaign to kill the coal industry.