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The Difference Between Thugs and Regulators

Sunday, March 22, 2009 10:38 AM

Acquaintainces of mine, still basking in the magical glow of Obama's celebrity, are currently fond of pointing out that government regulation of the finance industry "of the past eight years" has failed. They are audaciously hoping for "change," which in their words means that the Obama presidency will bring order to economic chaos by bringing in a new regulatory regime that actually stabilizes the world economy. In my opinion, Obama and the current Congress are not only incapable of doing that, they are agents of chaos and further destruction.

Taking their argument at face value, how will the new stabilizing regulatory regime be accomplished? The Obama brain trust of "experts" and "geniuses" will work out the regulatory details, and Congress will pass the laws implementing those details. We can already see what the results of this plan are going to be. The geniuses are dithering, frantically throwing a hodgepodge of socialist and Keynesian nostrums against the wall to see if anything sticks. But Congress is not waiting for that.

Congress appears not to know the difference between regulators and street thugs. Power is power, they seem to assume, and the proper tool to regulate a capitalist economy is the iron fist.

A few weeks ago if I wrote that, I would be risking criticism of paranoia, exaggeration, shrill extremism. Now, however, we have seen the smoking gun of Congressional thuggery, and that smoking gun is HR 1586, the TARP Recipients Bonus Tax. Introduced by Charles Rangel D-NY (the chap who wants to restore military conscription), and cosponsored by scores of Democrats, the bill passed the House 328 to 93 on March 19, 2009. Meanwhile, Barney Frank, chair of the Congressional Banking committee demonstrated the coarse art of bullying for all to see.

Why do I see this as a smoking gun? Three reasons:

  1. HR 1586 uses taxation, not as a means to raise revenue, but as a device to punish enemies of the State in an exercise of raw power.
  2. The targets of HR 1586 are not criminals, industries deemed to be working against the national interest, or even corporations being attacked in a personal vendetta, but private citizens deemed by Congress to be enemies of the State.
  3. In HR 1586 there is absolutely no expressed intent to regulate any aspect of the economy. The bill is quite simply an act of political thuggery.

There is a name for political thuggery of this kind. The name is "Bill of Attainder," defined as "an act of legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a trial." It is blatantly, unequivocally, and outrageously unconstitutional.

I have written before about an attack on the Constitution "one amendment at a time." Here is hard evidence for what I wrote.

It is bad enough that the Democrat party has been hijacked by the Congressional Progressive Caucus and is now pursuing, in my opinion, a Leninist agenda. To add insult to injury, however, the Republican Party, a part-time loyal opposition, contributed heavily to the 328 yea votes on the bill of attainder. Sad to say, even Eric Cantor R-VA, to my great disappointment, voted in favor of this unconstitutional piece of muck.

Journalists are begininning to assess the damage, as this article by a columnist in the normally "progressive" San Francisco Chronicle indicates.

Why would a Republican or a reasonable Democrat support this billl? In my opinion, the answer is simple. Polls, real or imagined. A majority of Americans had been opposed to the original TARP bill, which was passed against their expressed objections. Seeing that the chickens were coming home to roost about TARP, the Obamacrats panicked and decided to scapegoat the AIG employees who had received bonuses at taxpayer expense. The lynch mob wanted a hanging, and Congress, including Eric Cantor R-VA decided to give them one.

[Keywords: impeach-them-all.org against bill congress economy gun hr obama ]