WSJ to Commerce Secretary: Where's the apology?

It’s not often that a publication’s editorial board demands an apology from a contributor — for an article that they themselves published.  Today, the Wall Street Journal blasts Commerce Secretary Gary Locke for attacking firms that declared writedowns after the passage of ObamaCare as “irresponsible.”  Now that House Democrats have concluded that publicly-traded corporations understood the tax implications of ObamaCare better than they did, is it not time for Locke to apologize for his accusations?

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke rushed to attack AT&T, Verizon, Caterpillar and many others reporting losses from a tax increase on retiree drug benefits as “premature and irresponsible.” He later took to these pages to denounce those who noticed these writedowns as “disingenuous” and peddling “overheated rhetoric.” …

The larger question is what motivated the White House to unleash this assault. Democrats were amply warned about the destructive consequences of these tax changes, and if they really thought these companies were acting out of political motives, then they didn’t understand what was in their own bill. Or at least that’s one possibility.

More likely is that they did know and were simply trying to intimidate business and mislead the public in the early days of what was supposed to be the rapturous response to ObamaCare’s passage. Instead, the public has turned even more negative on the bill as Americans discover that it won’t control costs but will raise insurance premiums and taxes. No wonder Democrats want to change the subject to immigration and Goldman Sachs.

Not to point out the obvious, but why did the WSJ allow Locke’s piece to be published in the first place? Locke doesn’t have an entitlement to column space at the Journal, after all; the paper had no obligation to print it. Of all publications, the Journal had to know that the announcements were prompted by federal law, with the corporations facing legal sanctions if they didn’t announce the negative impact of ObamaCare as soon as it was apparent.

Beyond that, though, the Journal has this exactly correct. The pushback from the White House and Congress was meant to silence critics of the bill. Henry Waxman attempted to move farther down that road by threatening to subpoena corporate officers — until wiser heads prevailed among the Democrats — as a means of intimidating them into keeping their mouths shut.

Locke owes these companies, and critics of the White House, a public apology for his false accusations. Will we get it? The White House is probably already working on a sta — IMMIGRATION! ARIZONA! WALL STREET! Oh, excuse me; what were we discussing?

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David Strom 6:01 AM on June 06, 2023