George Will has an excellent piece in Sunday's Washington Post that asks "Will Obama's Statism Ever Retreat"? The legislative agenda of the Obama White House this year has put the lie to the rhetoric of Candidate Obama's promises in 2008. Gone is the politically centrist, consensus building, post racial pretense of an election season. What we have instead is an activist and radical Democratic Party determined to arrange American life in their own vision. Will comments that what the electorate sees today is ...
shrewd and nutty people such as Rep. Barney Frank [who] are brimful of excitement about arranging American life. What will stop them? The president accurately says Americans are "reluctant shareholders" of GM, AIG and Citigroup. But is he?
The GM, AIG, Chrysler and Citigroup stakes presently held by the government provide a real life litmus test as to the statist ambitions of this President and Congress. Senator Lamar Alexander sponsored legislation that would have placed the government stakes in GM and Chrysler in the hands of tax payers:
The "Auto Stock for Every Taxpayer Act" drafted by Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, would have required the Treasury Department to distribute to individual taxpayers -- evenly, to the approximately 120 million who filed 2008 returns -- all the stock the government holds in General Motors (61 percent) and Chrysler (8 percent). The legislation also would have prohibited using any more TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program) funds for GM or Chrysler. And the legislation would have prevented government from influencing corporate decisions for social, energy or environmental policy purposes.
Last month the Senate rejected this legislation 59-38. Only one Democrat voted for it.
That vote should explain the statist ambitions of these Democrats. If taxpayers hold such enormous stakes in these companies there is no reason why the Democratic Party control of these companies should not be turned over to a democratic process that has a long history of corporate control. But Democrats have chosen to turn their back on centuries of corporate governance law. Instead, they want to continue their newfound opportunity for control of private industry. They want to strengthen their grip on the private sector because it is one of the few remaining components of a society that, in their minds, requires their central planning magic.
However, the tumultuous aspect of the ObamaCare debate that most unsettles many Democrats is that taxpayers have figured out the statist intentions of their legislators and said "no more". That the Democrats refused to return control of their stakes in the auto companies should signal to all taxpayers that their intentions concerning ObamaCare will entail a similar coercive strategy. Fortunately grandma and grandpa (as the President so derisively refers to his favorite straw man) have figured that out already.