The attack now has at least two prongs. One, which Hans von Spakovsky exposed at last week, involves the politicization of government contracting by implementing parts of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s DISCLOSE act, never passed by Congress or signed into law, via executive order. That would force corporations and members and some employees of corporations that wish to do business with the government to disclose their political donations. Government contracting officers would presumably use this information in awarding contracts, a process that up to now has been strictly apolitical. Contracting officers, and the administrations they work for, would be able to use government contracts to reward their political allies and punish their political enemies, more so than is possible now. For Democrats, this change might also boost their corporate donations — donations which would enable them to maintain their power, stay in office, and dole out yet more contracts. It’s basically the same game plan the Democrats have used with the government unions for decades, now being extended to the private sector.
The second prong of the attack comes in the form of direct corporate coercion. The WSJ brings us the case in point, in which the Obama administration is trying to force the ouster of a pharma CEO it doesn’t like, and who has done nothing wrong.
The Department of Health and Human Services this month notified Howard Solomon of Forest Laboratories Inc. that it intends to exclude him from doing business with the federal government. This, in turn, could prevent Forest from selling its drugs to Medicare, Medicaid and the Veterans Administration. If the government implements its ban, Forest would have to dump Mr. Solomon, now 83 years old, in order to protect its corporate revenue. No drug company, large or small, can afford to lose out on sales to the federal government, a major customer.
What is Solomon’s crime? None. His company was found guilty of marketing violations, but he had no knowledge of what happened. As the Journal notes, if this succeeds, the DHHS won’t be the only bureaucracy to lean on private sector companies. DOD, NASA, FEMA, any agency that procures goods and services from the private sector may follow suit.
In the case of Forest, the government’s action may amount to a kind of double jeopardy since the company has already dealt with the actual misconduct with a guilty plea and paid fines. If you want to paralyze and ultimately politicize American business, the Obama administration’s actions strike me as a very efficient way to do both.
Update: It slipped my mind when I was writing the above, but there is a third prong to the Obama administration’s assault on the private sector: The National Labor Relations Board, and its unprecedented action against Boeing. That move is an attack on right-to-work laws, and on corporations’ freedom to pursue advantageous economic climates.