Bryan Fischer
Obama, Congress and AIG: A nation of laws or men?
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By Bryan Fischer
March 20, 2009

The rush by the House to pass a brand new law to tax 90% to 100% of the AIG bonuses is a perfectly terrible response to a perfectly onerous scandal.

Fortunately, both of the congressmen from my home state of Idaho, Republican Mike Simpson and Democrat Walt Minnick, voted against this very bad bill.

The problem here is that AIG should not have been bailed out in the first place. A Wall Street Journal column points out, by the way, that taxpayers could well be on the hook for another $160 billion in bailout funds for AIG beyond the $170 we've already dumped on this albatross.

This latest action completely undermines the rule of law — since the bonuses were not only legal but obligatory under a law passed at the insistence of the administration just a month ago — and raises the specter of the entire anger of Congress targeting laser-like vengeance against individuals it has chosen to disfavor, even though those individuals were doing nothing illegal.

Whatever understandable rage the public feels about this mess should be directed squarely at President Obama and Chris Dodd, who worked together to make sure that these misbegotten payouts had legal protection. AIG didn't do this — the president and his Democrat cronies did, and they are using sleight of hand to divert our anger from them. The first thing to do in any crisis is find somebody to blame, and the Democrats have found their scapegoat.

This House action obliterates a fundamental principle of American justice, derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition, that we are all equal under the law, and that we are a nation governed by laws and not by the caprice of men.

This kind of willy-nilly, pass-punitive-laws-on-the-fly tendency represents a dangerous inclination of the current Congress and administration to ignore fundamental Constitutional rights and abuse its power. This latest action should be opposed by every American who cares about true justice.

As Ian Bremmer writes in today's Wall Street Journal, this action is "retroactive and unfair," and represents an attempt by the Obama administration to "use political power to contort the law" in order "to pander to an angry public." This tactic shares more in common with the French Revolution than any principle of American law and history.

Plus, Bremmer points out the uncertainty this creates for investors, for this punitive action attaches "new political risk components to all contracts," because "they cannot trust our government's will in the face of public outrage."

The silver lining in this cloud is that it may keep other banks from taking a dime of bailout money, as the Washington Post suggests.

The solution: get the president and Congress out of the bailout and stimulus business altogether. And if they won't get out, then we need to get a new president and a new Congress.

© Bryan Fischer

 

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