Obama Escalates His War On Prosperity
This story appears in the May 10, 2016 issue of Forbes.
NOT SINCE the New Deal’s heyday in the 1930s has Washington waged such an unrelenting assault against the private sector. Both times the result has been the same: a severely underperforming economy.
The Obama Administration has let it be known that the White House and the regulatory agencies will be issuing a blizzard of new rules and decrees in the waning months of his miserable regime. These will affect overtime, unionization, the environment and finance, among other areas, thereby hobbling enterprise even more.
Bernie Sanders calls himself a socialist. Obama has been practicing this misbegotten creed for more than seven years. The President long ago grasped that you don’t have to seize the means of production; you simply smother companies and industries with rules and regulations–preferably vaguely written to give bureaucrats wide discretion–so they survive only at your sufferance.
Banks have been reduced to the role of utilities. One group victimized has been small and new businesses, which have been starved of reasonable and reliable lines of credit since Obama took office. Hospitals and health insurers know who their real customer is these days–Big Government, not the patient. The EPA’s jihad against fossil fuels is well-known. Even the Internet hasn’t been spared, as the FCC, a supposedly independent agency, has meekly followed White House orders to hit the Net with 1930s’ rotary-phone-style regulations. This maneuver was illegal and will continue to suffocate new investment until the courts can adjudicate the matter.
Largely unremarked upon has been the Federal Reserve’s extraordinary usurpation of power, notably its seizure of nearly $4 trillion in financial assets.
In the issuance of many of these decrees lawlessness has reigned, but the White House remains unbowed, despite occasional setbacks in the courts.
One example is the Treasury’s totally illegal diktat barring corporate inversions, whereby companies change their headquarters’ postal address to lower-tax countries such as Ireland. This is something for Congress to decide. But no matter, Obama did it anyway, figuring companies would back off because it would take them years of expensive litigation to win.
Even your IRAs aren’t safe, as Washington starts floating the idea that these accounts should be required to hold a certain amount of government bonds. This is another instance of Obama-style socialism: Government control of what you can do with your money is as good as its owning it.
The dreary list is unending.
What’s disheartening is the Republicans’ pathetic, largely impotent response to all of this. For starters they should go online and pull up Ronald Reagan’s speech given on Oct. 27, 1964. The numbers cited are dated, of course, but his themes concerning the threat of gradual government enslavement, sadly, ring as true today as they did over a half-century ago.