Obama seeks power to seize more businesses

Posted on March 24, 2009

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The Washington Post reports today that the Obama administration wants expanded power to seize other businesses besides banks. Large insurance companies, hedge funds, and investment firms – these are the main types of business in the crosshairs right now as the push is to get rid of private regulatory agencies and seemingly nationalize the banking industry and put it under the loving care of the Federal Reserve.

President Obama likes the idea, saying he hopes it doesn’t take too long for the proposed powers to be enabled. Meanwhile, the rest of us see this as an absolutely horrible idea. Brian Darling at RedState notes that the Constitution gives no power to the Treasury to usurp private industry to prevent a greater harm to the economy, as the argument is being framed.

The bottom line is that this is not the free market, not capitalism, and not the principles of limited government this country was founded upon. The markets rallied yesterday, but I’ll be interested to see their reaction over the next few days to the threat of potential federal seizure. The precedents being set here are frightening. We have the House approving a 90% confiscatory tax designed to specifically punish a single company that made a politically unpalatable move (a tax which has been delayed by the Senate). Now we have the administration calling for the power to seize “troubled” companies. Today, it’s the finance sector. Tomorrow, it might be the auto industry, who also accepted bailout money. Next week, it might be whatever industry is deemed to be causing harm to the economy.

It’s a grab for power, and one that doesn’t sit well with me at all. In just the last two months, the administration has called for the role of government in the private sector to dramatically expand, when any constitutional scholar will tell it was the intent of the founders to curb the influence of the federal government, knowing that its growth would flirt too dangerously with tyranny, a situation which we may find ourselves in before it’s all done.

The Anchoress admits she originally misread the headline, thinking it said “Obama wants to seize arms.” Obviously that’s not the case today, but with such open talk of empowering government to an unprecedented level, it’s not that hard to imagine.

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Posted in: News, Politics