Obama Putting Our Tax Dollars On Auto Pilot

If you were alarmed about the outlandish growth of government power, doubt no longer. Barack Obama just fired the head of a private company. The March 30 Wall Street Journal headline said it all: “Government Forces Out Wagoner at GM.” And several more bosses are likely to fall as Obama throws them to the mob.

Obama simply ordered GM’s CEO Rick Wagoner to resign or the government purse would be shut. CBS “Early Show” host Harry Smith described it aptly by saying Wagoner’s head went rolling off the guillotine.” Obama didn’t clear it with shareholders, taxpayers or even Congress. That guillotine is apropos. It’s a relic of the rise of Napoleon, after all. But some on the left still insist on recalling George W. Bush’s terms as the Imperial Presidency.

Obama is no longer just a political power – he’s the economic tsar controlling an entire economy. The president of the United States is now above the CEO for any company that gets money from the government. That could be almost any firm in the financial sector – Wall Street, banks, insurance companies and more. But why stop there?

It is easy to argue that government can take that even further. Obama can rein in any company the government has some involvement with or regulatory power over. Universities, hospitals, pharmaceutical firms and defense contractors all interact with a powerful government. Now imagine the White House CEO dictating terms to all of these entities.

Think it can’t happen? Don’t ask Rick Wagoner. He’s past caring. He got a hefty retirement payout, thanks to the taxpayer-funded bailout. Instead, take a look at how Wall Street reacted – a 254-point drop as rumors of other firings filtered through a concerned financial community. Investors know this is dangerous.

Whose head will roll next? Robert Nardelli of Chrysler is safe for now. But what about CEOs at Citigroup or Bank of America or any of dozens or even hundreds of other companies that Obama can target at his whim.

Obama sure did it this time. He poured money into failing companies to protect his union buddies when ordinary bankruptcy would have been better and easier on the public. But once he did, he – and we – were stuck.

Obama couldn’t let Chrysler and GM fail. After all, he spent $17.4 billion underwriting Detroit automakers and the unions that helped corrode the Rust Belt. Now he has promised another $6 billion to GM as a reward for having canned Wagoner. Unsurprisingly, Obama is now talking about bankruptcy for the companies after first having thrown away $250 million a day on them.

Another $6 billion just to give a failed firm 60 days working capital when hardly a soul in America thought either of these companies viable. And we knew $17 billion ago. Now Obama wants to give away another $6 billion? Welcome to Grand Theft Auto V: Politicians on a Rampage.

At least in GTA, as it is known by its fans, you know it’s a predator-filled world. There you try to survive in a city filled with gun play, hand-to-hand combat and constant road rage. In other words, it’s a world where the criminals are obvious when they rob you. The D.C. version of the game would be boring by comparison, and the bad guys would steal even more.

But we don’t just have Obama to blame for this foolishness. He’s not the only bad guy here. Only a few months ago, the broadcast networks were doing everything they could to justify an auto bailout to supposedly save 2.5 million jobs.  In less than three weeks last November, ABC, CBS and NBC aired 31 stories promoting a bailout. That was nearly three times as many positive stories as balanced stories. One lone ABC story was critical of the idea.

“GM may not make it without help, and others may have to merge,” NBC “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams told viewers Nov. 18. “If just one of the big three were to fail, an estimated two and a half million jobs might be lost.”

Now the Obama administration comes out and tells us that GM and Chrysler “did not establish a credible path to viability.” Obama’s response is to fire one guy and give them even more time.

According to the Associated Press, Obama wants “tough cost-cutting measures that will ensure the companies' survival.” Talk about taking us for a ride. There’s only one way the government can ensure the companies’ survival – with perpetual tax dollars. To do that, Obama needs to establish a credible path to believability. And he doesn’t have it.

What he has is a plan to assert government control over any aspect of American society he chooses. It’s not credible, but at least he’s giving us the transparency he promised. He couldn’t be any more transparent.

Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and Vice President of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum and he can be seen each Thursday on Foxnews.com’s “Strategy Room.”