Blowing His Political Capital?

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Mar 17, 2009 12:05 PM
The Washington Post runs a story today detailing how the AIG bonus story represents a serious blow to President Obama and his agenda.

The fact is that it also represents a teachable moment, both for Republicans and for conservatives.  For the GOP, it's an opportunity to make the point that the Obama administration is more than a little incompetent.  It's not clear how the supposed "best and brightest" leading lights populating the administration managed to give away additional TARP funds without ensuring that the new money was conditioned on the absence of these kinds of corporate hijinks.

For conservatives, it's a golden opportunity to note the problems with the kind of socialism-lite that depends on government micromanaging of corporate business.  If the government couldn't even get this kind of glaring, obvious task right, does anyone really think it's going to be capable of overseeing all the more mundane decisions that go into running a business?

Of course, the answer isn't to let business run wild.  Rather, the government should put rules and regulations in place that empower and encourage private stakeholders in the companies -- who have their own, personal incentives for overseeing the conduct of the corporation -- and then leave it to them.  Obviously, the rules and regulations have to be created with the goal of encouraging corporate growth and profitability; this means that it shouldn't be an invitation for the Democrats simply to pass laws that will enrich their top donors, the plaintiffs' bar.