Think carefully about what's happening here. The White House, presumably car czar Steven Rattner and deputy Ron Bloom, is seeking to transfer the property of one group of people to another group that is politically favored. In the process it is setting aside basic property rights in favor of rewarding the United Auto Workers for the support the union has given the Democratic Party. The only possible limit on the White House's power is the bankruptcy judge, who might not go along.
Michigan politicians of both parties joined Obama in denouncing the holdout bondholders. They point to the sad plight of UAW retirees not getting full payment of the health-care benefits the union negotiated with Chrysler. But the plight of the beneficiaries of the pension funds represented by the bondholders is sad, too. Ordinarily you would expect these claims to be weighed and determined by the rule of law. But not apparently in this administration.
Obama's attitude toward the rule of law is apparent in the words he used to describe what he is looking for in a nominee to replace Justice David Souter. He wants "someone who understands justice is not just about some abstract legal theory," he said, but someone who has "empathy." In other words, judges should decide cases so that the right people win, not according to the rule of law.
The Chrysler negotiations will not be the last occasion for this administration to engage in bailout favoritism and crony capitalism. There's a May 31 deadline to come up with a settlement for General Motors. And there will be others. In the meantime, who is going to buy bonds from unionized companies if the government is going to take their money away and give it to the union? We have just seen an episode of Gangster Government. It is likely to be part of a continuing series.
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