An end run around the Constitution by a union of Big Business and Big Government.
On January 14, 2021, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) finalized a rule codifying a decade of OCC guidance that made it illegal for any OCC-regulated bank with more than $100 billion in assets to reject customers for any reason other than financial risk. In short, it was an effort to prevent banks from targeting industries and organizations deemed “politically incorrect” by the American Left and therefore “unworthy” of access to services, capital, and/or credit. One week later, the OCC put the rule on hold to “allow the next confirmed Comptroller of the Currency to review the final rule and the public comments the OCC received, as part of an orderly transition.”
Before his departure, acting Comptroller Brian Brooks explained the rationale behind the original rule. “As Comptrollers and staff in previous administrations have made clear in speeches, guidance, and testimony, banks should not terminate services to entire categories of customers without conducting individual risk assessments,” he stated. “It is inconsistent with basic principles of prudent risk management to make decisions based solely on conclusory or categorical assertions of risk without actual analysis. Moreover, elected officials should determine what is legal and illegal in our country.”
The OCC further argued that it was the agency’s obligation “to ensure fair access to financial services, and fair treatment of customers” required by banks following the passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law in 2010.
The rule was initially proposed on November 19, 2020, and drew praise from Republicans who had criticized virtue-signaling banking behemoths such as Citibank, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and JPMorgan Chase, which had dropped clients that sold firearms and/or refused to fund fossil fuel producers.
Senator Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, made it clear he has no patience for such politically motivated machinations. “Fairness matters. Discrimination is not allowed in our society and big banks should not be an exception,” he explained. “No matter how important their services are, they do not have the right to create de-facto bans on legal businesses like energy producers and gun manufacturers.”
Unsurprisingly, Democrats insisted the Dodd-Frank bill was about protecting people of color who had faced banking discrimination for decades, not rich corporations with a myriad of banking options.
Banking industry groups were also critical. “The rule lacks both logic and legal basis, it ignores basic facts about how banking works, and it will undermine the safety and soundness of the banks to which it applies,” said Greg Baer, president and CEO of the Bank Policy Institute, a research and advocacy group for big U.S. banks. “Its substantive problems are outweighed only by the egregious procedural failings of the rule making process, and for these reasons it is unlikely to withstand scrutiny.”
Scrutiny from whom? Millions of Americans are well aware we have entered an age where, under the banner of “socially responsible investing,” a hard-left political agenda is being forcibly imposed on them.
And not just by banks. “Corporate action meant to undermine the democratic will has been a hallmark of American business for years now,” explains columnist Stephen R. Soukup.
Soukup cites egregious examples, noting that several corporate titans, including Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Apple CEO Tim Cook, “conspired to overturn the will of the people” in the cases of Georgia’s religious liberty bill and its fetal heartbeat legislation, as well as North Carolina’s since-overturned bathroom bill that would have required “transgenders” to use the bathroom associated with their biological sex.
Such efforts elicit a troubling question: Who’s really in control of America — duly elected public officials at the local, state, and federal level, or a handful of virtue-signaling corporate CEOs who answer to no one but themselves?
BlackRock Inc., an investment firm with over $7 trillion under management — as in assets surpassed by only the entire GDP of two countries, the U.S. and China — may have provided an answer. A year ago, BlackRock CEO Laurence D. Fink wrote a letter to a number of other world CEOs stating that climate change will be “a defining factor in companies’ long-term prospects” precipitating “a fundamental reshaping of finance.”
This year, Fink upped the ante, calling on all companies “to disclose a plan for how their business model will be compatible with a net-zero economy,” defined by Fink as limiting global warming to no more than two degrees Celsius above preindustrial averages and eliminating net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. “We expect you to disclose how this plan is incorporated into your long-term strategy and reviewed by your board of directors,” he wrote.
Companies that fail to obey? Fink added that BlackRock will be using a “heightened-scrutiny model” for climate risk that includes “flagging holdings for potential exit.”
This business model is promoted as Environmental, Social, Governance (ESG) investing. In reality it is organized extortion, whereby leftist activists are attempting to transcend government and create their own set of rules: Either a corporation adheres to leftist dogma, or it will have no access to capital markets.
Will the Biden administration derail these efforts? Probably not. More likely, it will use some variation of the Green New Deal as a vehicle to not only abide such financial extortion but to completely eliminate what should be a wall of separation between the private and public sector. Furthermore, Americans will likely endure the furtherance of a de facto progressive cartel. One already willing to suppress any and all “misinformation” inimical to its agenda, replete with threats issued by activist groups such as Sleeping Giants, Global Disinformation Index, and Check My Ads to those deemed insufficiently “woke.”
Moreover, that cartel isn’t solely about controlling finance. In an astounding breach of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against “unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government,” Bank of America indiscriminately provided private customer data to the federal government regarding any and all individuals who traveled to or near Washington, DC, purchased hotel accommodations and/or airline tickets, bought weapons, or shopped at “weapons-related” retailers one or about January 6.
This was done to determine if they were involved in the riot at the Capitol.
That this was apparently coordinated between the FBI and Bank of America without the requisite written request, subpoena, or warrant, and — even more despicably — without the required notification of individual account owners. For all intents and purposes, a major bank enabled a fishing expedition by a corrupt law enforcement agency that included targeting people who committed no crime whatsoever.
“What we’re witnessing is the federal government’s police power and the corporate world’s information power coming together to perform a complete end-run around the United States Constitution,” columnist Andrea Widburg explains.
Not just the Constitution, but the fundamental concept of the nation-state. During his inauguration speech Joe Biden spoke about “unifying” America. Americans are now learning that unification is all about a partnership between government and corporate oligarchs, both intent on imposing Constitution-be-damned globalized tyranny.
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