Mona Charen
Much of the interpretation of the Standard and Poor's downgrade of U.S. debt focused on the "dysfunction" of the U.S. political process. And certainly the S and P (which, let's not forget, contributed to the 2008 financial crisis by failing to downgrade bad mortgage debt) invited such analysis by citing "the prolonged controversy over raising the statutory debt ceiling and the related fiscal policy debate . . ."

Yes, the confrontation over raising the debt ceiling was ugly, but not nearly as ugly as the underlying policies that are carrying us to the brink of insolvency. This focus on the contentiousness of the debate, rather than on debt, is dangerous and obtuse. It's reminiscent of those liberals during the Cold War who were more upset about someone being called a communist than about someone actually being a communist.

Standard and Poor's may have been right for the wrong reasons. The real reason for doubt about our future capacity to pay our debts is that one of our two political parties is wedded to the social/democrat agenda that is, even as we speak, bringing Europe down.

It is our misfortune that at a moment of heightened economic fragility, we elected a Keynesian liberal who thought of the private sector as a bottomless piggy bank for his redistributionist schemes. Rather than bolster the economy in the early months of his presidency and in the depths of the recession, President Obama further burdened it with ObamaCare, the Dodd-Frank Act and a truly punitive regulation agenda.

For example, The Wall Street Journal reports that the Obama administration has intensified its pursuit of drug company executives: "The campaign against drug-company CEOs is part of a larger Obama administration effort to pursue individual executives blamed for wrongdoing rather than simply punishing companies." The Obama raiders at the FDA interpret wrongdoing very broadly.

Henry Miller at Forbes notes that the FDA now "specifies that a corporate officer can be convicted of a misdemeanor for corporate violations if he was in a position to detect, prevent or correct an action that caused a violation of law -- even if the person had no knowledge of the action. That is, intent is not required. Penalties for a convicted executive can include forfeit of profits, fines and a prison sentence."

Multiply that across the hundreds of agencies and departments that regulate U.S. business and you have a substantial chilling effect on risk-taking and entrepreneurial activity. The private sector has been bullied and burdened into quiescence. The public sector, which depends upon a vibrant private economy, has gone on a bender without the slightest nod toward reality.


Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
 
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