Obama's silent regulatory army is still on the march

Obama's silent regulatory army is still on the march
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History has recorded that it was Winston Churchill who came up with the codename “Overlord” for the historic Allied invasion of Normandy. To this day, the word can send a shiver through even the most masculine (yes, I used the word) of men. American military operations have a tradition of great names; Desert Storm, Rolling Thunder, Neptune Spear, all inspire thoughts of bravery and grandeur.

When it comes to domestic operations, however, pencil-necked bureaucrats lack the flair, and perhaps the masculinity, for inspiring names. Take for example the Obama Justice Department’s “Operation Choke Point.” This grotesque, but aptly named, operation was first proposed in 2012 and commenced in 2013. Its purpose was ostensibly to choke off the ability for fraudulent and predatory companies to move money and conduct commerce, thereby effectively protecting consumers from the machinations of greedy capitalists.

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You see, the real intention of the operation was to weaponize the bureaucracy to go after industries distasteful to the politically correct palate. With the FDIC and OCC on board issuing warnings to banks about “high risk merchants,” the bureaucrats from DC and elsewhere had open license to make it very difficult to do business with anybody on their ideological enemies list.

 

Add to the above the combined weight of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) and you had large budgets and large pools of bureaucrats clamping down on free commerce everywhere all under the guise of protecting mindless Americans from the unscrupulous. 

I say “had” because in August 2017, then-Assistant Attorney General Robert Boyd notified the relevant government authorities that the Justice Department was no longer following the “misguided initiative” of the Obama Justice Department. The FDIC rescinded its list of “high risk merchants.” So the Trump administration had successfully performed a free-market Heimlich Maneuver and Operation Choke Point was no more. 

Or was it?

There are indications that the entrenched, highly ideological, ethically unencumbered bureaucrats now affectionately termed the "deep state" are continuing to apply the spirit of Operation Choke Point in the regular oversight and rule-making functions of American business. While the Trump administration is working feverishly — albeit in a Capella without any real Republican accompaniment — to repeal regulatory burdens, the FTC and CFPB are still making mischief in the market. (By the way, making mischief in the market translates into fewer goods and services, higher prices, lost revenue, failed businesses and people out of work.)

The FTC in particular is currently targeting payment processing companies at a shocking rate. Payment processors are the backbone of the American economy. They act as the "middle men" between the customer and the vendor. Without payment processors we would not be able to have the financial tech advancements of the last 20 years.

If all the payment processors decided to pool their collective power together and turn off their services in a single day it could totally destroy our lifestyle and chaos would ensue. No ordering Uber, purchasing medicine or using Amazon. Payment processors must be embraced as a central point of the American economy, not an enemy of our country.

This was not a big story in the media at the time Obama started to build this regulatory death star and it is a no-story today. The details are complex and the arguments to explain the dangers are nuanced. What is not complex or nuanced is the motive of the government regulators behind the interference with free market mechanisms: They want to damage industries, especially the firearms industry, because they don’t fit their dystopic picture of a just world.

Understand, these agents with unlimited power are not elected. They do not roll over every two to four years. They are difficult to fire. They are accountable only to their written-in-crayon performance objectives for their GS-whatever level.

And yet, they are effectively legislating and making policy every day, before lunch, without your permission.

People are busy. Political matters are of no interest to many, too confusing to some, and an irrational obsession to others. It is difficult to get people to properly focus just on the task of electing responsible leaders every couple of years. Having them zero-in on unelected bureaucrats is almost impossible. But it has to be dealt with.

These bureaucrats of the deep state are a bit like a group of rowdy teenagers having a sleepover. When a parent comes into the room they hide what they are doing and behave like angels. Once the parent is no longer looking, they go back whatever they were doing. But in the bureaucrats’ case this is a lot more dangerous than passing a joint or watching inappropriate YouTube videos. They are limiting our freedom.

As Americans we need to constantly remind ourselves about the “free” in free market. Other nations around the world have to compete with us by using massive government subsidies or forced labor. America became human history’s benchmark for economic innovation and wealth production without bureaucratic direction and not by force. Freedom is the engine of free markets. Freedom is the engine of the world.

Charlie Kirk (@CharlieKirk11) is the founder and president of Turning Point USA, a conservative nonprofit that aims to educate students on free-market values.