Barone: Welcome to the Gangster Presidency

Michael Barone departs from his normally moderate tone in today’s Investors Business Daily column to label the Obama administration as Gangster Government.  Instead of following the rule of law, Obama and his henchmen have threatened to kneecap their opposition in the press and use Porkulus as an extortion device to dictate policy.  So far, only one group has been the beneficiary of the gangster tactics:

The White House denied that it strong-armed Perella Weinberg. The firm issued a statement saying it decided to accept the settlement, but it pointedly did not deny that it had been threatened by the White House. Which is to say, the threat worked.

The same goes for big banks that have received billions in government TARP money. Many of them want to give back the money, but the government won’t let them. They also voted to accept the Chrysler settlement. Nice little bank ya got there, wouldn’t want anything to happen to it.

Left-wing bloggers have been saying that the White House’s denial of making threats should be taken at face value and that Lauria’s statement is not evidence to the contrary. But that’s ridiculous. Lauria is a reputable lawyer and a contributor to Democratic candidates. He has no motive to lie. The White House does.

Think carefully about what’s happening here. The White House, presumably car czar Steven Rattner and deputy Ron Bloom, is seeking to transfer the property of one group of people to another group that is politically favored.

In the process it is setting aside basic property rights in favor of rewarding the United Auto Workers for the support the union has given the Democratic Party.

The same process can be seen in California, a state on the edge of bankruptcy, which has relied on Obama’s promises of stimulus spending to recalculate their budget. Because one of their more minor cuts came at the expense of a group of unionized health-care workers, Obama has threatened to withhold the funds, which will disrupt Democratic-engineered budget plans. Remember when Obama said that the stimulus funds wouldn’t come with strings attached?

Especially in the case of the automakers, the entire strategy is self-defeating. Part of the problem with American automakers has been the UAW’s resistance to changes in compensation that would make them more competitive. Now, with the Obama administration tilting the bankruptcies of both Chrysler and GM to put the UAW in control, the likelihood of real change that will produce a competitive firm has all but disappeared. It also puts the union in position to crash Ford, through job actions, because they will need to eliminate the competition in order to make their new stock positions valuable enough to pay off their liabilities.

It’s a disaster created by government fiat, no pun intended. If indeed we’re seeing gangster government, it would help to have smarter gangsters running it. I’d call this a Fredo Government. We keep hearing Obama’s defenders say, “He’s smart! He knows things! Not like everybody says!”