Jane, Stop This Crazy Thing

Yet another example of not letting a good crisis go to waste:

The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document.

The government at present has the authority to seize only banks.

Giving the Treasury secretary authority over a broader range of companies would mark a significant shift from the existing model of financial regulation, which relies on independent agencies that are shielded from the political process. The Treasury secretary, a member of the president’s Cabinet, would exercise the new powers in consultation with the White House, the Federal Reserve and other regulators, according to the document.

I know there’s a crisis, but it’s time to become a little wary. Past time, in fact.

Remember that TARP I and TARP II have yet to remove a single toxic asset from the portfolio of a single bank, despite extraordinary new executive power and superextraordinary Congressional spending. And now they want more of everything — money, power, the works. All while taking on health care and putting off fixing Social Security or Medicare/Medicaid.

How much more before people shout, “Enough!”?

SIDEBAR: Every President since FDR has pushed for more power and authority in the executive branch, and especially concentrated in the Oval Office itself. The process really accelerated under Reagan, Clinton, and Bush 43. But I’m not sure we’ve seen anything quite like the speedup under Obama in just two months. At what point does Congress become a rubber stamp? Hard to say.

Obama really has let Pelosi and Reid do pretty much whatever they like, turning the president’s signature into the rubber stamp. Except he’s the one gaining the power. Shades of the PATRIOT ACT here. So really what we’re getting is more like a co-option of power between the legislature and the executive. Checks and balances? That’s so 19th Century, dude.