(The Federalist) Amongst the record-breaking number of executive actions taken by President Joe Biden was one related to a little-known, frightening Obama-era program called Operation Choke Point.
The program, dubbed so under former Attorney General Eric Holder, uses the power of the federal government to target legal yet leftist-disfavored businesses. These include gun sellers, pawnshops, and short-term money lenders.
The Trump administration did its best to end this blatantly unconstitutional program that sought to discriminate against legal industries. In 2017, the Justice Department declared the program “formally over.” At the end of Trump’s term, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency established the Fair Access rule to solidify its culmination.
The Obama administration claimed the program was intended to root out fraud by cutting off “high risk” industries from the banking system. But the administration didn’t make any differentiation between legal and illegal “high risk” industries, intentionally grouping lawful industries such as firearms sellers with patently illegal activities like Ponzi and credit-card schemes.
Different agencies within the Obama administration denied wrongdoing in various ways. At least one bank, however, admitted to choking off three legal enterprises at the government’s behest. Dozens of business owners — many of them gun sellers and short-term lenders — said their bank accounts and access to credit card processing platforms were suddenly stymied or shut down with no explanation and no opportunity for recourse.
Signs of Operation Choke Point’s formal resurrection are symbolic of the larger attempt by government actors to choke politically disfavored industries and individuals from the mainstream.
While cancel culture has led to a politicized economy, the federal government’s arbitrarily targeting of individuals, groups, and entire companies will increase the politicization of the country, where the only acceptable views are from those in power.
Operating in the dark corners of the federal bureaucracy, Operation Choke Point bypasses public input and the legislative process, leaving politically unpopular individuals and businesses to fend for themselves.