AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Operation Choke Point was an Obama-era effort designed to pressure financial institutions to cut off disfavored industries. As you need banks and banking to operate, the thinking was that you would “choke off” these industries from existing, all without legislating a thing.
It wasn’t exactly the Obama administration’s finest hour.
One of the industries Operation Choke Point targeted was the firearms industry. Since Parkland, we’ve seen the financial industry take just those steps, though we have no indication this is still ongoing within federal agencies.
However, one lawmaker seems more outraged that it’s not universal than that it happened in the first place.
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) unabashedly embraced the tactics behind one of the most shameful policies of the Obama era, openly using the guise of her federal authority to berate and not so subtly threaten a bank for lawfully serving businesses that don’t reflect her political views.
But an oversight hearing by the House Financial Services Committee on Tuesday provided one of the clearest and most shocking examples to date of how anti-gun Democrats are now willing to embrace as official policy what was still treated as scandal under the Obama administration.
The title of the hearing was “Holding Megabanks Accountable: An Examination of Wells Fargo’s Pattern of Consumer Abuses.” Wells Fargo, not coincidentally, provides banking services to the NRA.
The only witness at the four hour plus hearing was Wells Fargo President and Chief Executive Officer Timothy J. Sloan. Mr. Sloan had the unenviable task of serving as punching bag during an extended production of Political Outrage Theatre. The entire premise of the hearing was that Wells Fargo might very well have to endure yet more regulation and oversight – or perhaps be broken up altogether – unless Mr. Sloan provided satisfactory answers to committee members’ questions about the bank and its business practices.
Maloney, for her part, excoriated Mr. Sloan and Wells Fargo for refusing to follow the lead of other national banks that had refused or severed business with members of the gun industry that did not “voluntarily” adopt certain gun control “best practices” that exceed the requirements of federal law.
These practices include banning long gun purchases by young adults eligible for military service and refusing to recognize the 3-day default transfer option that gun dealers may exercise if the FBI does not complete a background check. They also just happened to mirror policy goals that anti-gun Democrats – a category that includes Maloney herself – have been pursuing through legislation they have not to date been successful in enacting.
Maloney, in other words, was not accusing Wells Fargo of having done anything illegal by transacting with members of the firearm industry. Rather, she was criticizing the bank for not imposing anti-gun rules that Congress itself has failed to adopt.
Every time I think that we, as a nation, need to put aside the bitter divide we have on so many issues, I find an anti-gun Democrat who takes a position like this.
Maloney knows that she’ll never be able to legislate guns away as she’d like to, so instead she wants to berate a company for not doing it for her. Wells Fargo has done nothing wrong. Maloney isn’t even saying they’re doing anything remotely illegal. She’s angry because they’re willing to work with entities that she doesn’t like.
After all, Wells Fargo is the bank for the National Rifle Association.
The thing is, in a free market, Wells Fargo is free to do business with whomever it so chooses, just as all of those other banks are free to place whatever stipulations on their services they wish. That’s the beauty of the free market.
What Maloney wants, however, is a universal adoption of these rules because then it means the firearm industry has no choice but to follow these dictates regardless of what the law allows.
I don’t think Maloney has thought this one out.
For example, what if Republicans started pushing banks to conduct similar operations against someone like Planned Parenthood or some other progressive-favored industry? Once you let the genie out of the bottle, you can’t control it. Look at what happened with the progressive idea of sanctuary communities.
But like so many lawmakers in this country, she doesn’t think beyond what she wants in the here and now.
Maloney doesn’t like guns and the firearm industry, so she doesn’t consider the potential ramifications of this kind of action. She’s convinced that Republicans will never use this tactic against anyone.
Does she think they’re more principled than that or something? Honestly, I’m not sure she’s thinking at all.
Regardless, Maloney’s comments are disturbing. It should disturb every American, regardless of political stripe. After all, if lawmakers can try and pressure banks to refuse to do business with companies operating in full compliance with all applicable laws, what do you think they’d do to an individual they disagreed with?