Douglas Andrews / February 24, 2021

The Return of Operation Choke Point

To further politicize the economy and redline certain sectors of it, Team Biden is poised to bring back a notorious Obama-era program.

Nice bank ya got there. It’d be a shame if something happened to it.

That’s essentially the message our nation’s worst attorney general began sending back in 2013 to certain banks that had the wrong kinds of customers. He even came up with a fittingly descriptive name for his unconstitutional anti-business program: Operation Choke Point.

As we wrote yesterday, the Biden administration is planning to revive Barack Obama and Eric Holder’s infamous initiative, a 2013 scheme by which the Obama Justice Department’s banking industry regulators forced certain banks to investigate the business they did with firearm and ammunition dealers and other disfavored businesses — such as pawn shops, coin dealers, and short-term loan providers — ostensibly because they were believed to be at a high risk for fraud and money laundering. Thus, through Operation Choke Point, the Obama administration was trying to deny several perfectly legal industries even basic access to the banking system.

This orchestrated denial of goods and services is the very definition of redlining, a system that was originally used to keep blacks out of certain neighborhoods in certain U.S. cities through the denial of mortgages or home improvement loans. Rather than redlining “undesirable” people, the Obama administration was redlining undesirable businesses.

And it worked. Just ask Brian Bookman, a former police officer and Army veteran. As The Daily Signal reported back in 2014, “After researching his case on the Internet, Brookman says he concluded that his banker, JP Morgan Chase, closed the account because two of his business activities — dealing in vintage coins and selling firearms — were labeled ‘high risk’ by federal bureaucrats as part of an Obama administration initiative called Operation Choke Point.”

So selling firearms and thereby facilitating access to our Constitution’s Second Amendment is now considered “high risk”?

Under President Donald Trump, however, Choke Point was rightly considered an unconstitutional infringement on these legal businesses and ended by the Justice Department in 2017. “And by the end of the former president’s term,” writes Jon Dougherty in BizPac Review, “the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency [OCC] issued a ‘Fair Access’ rule instructing large banks to provide financial services to businesses and individuals irrespective of political considerations.”

But like nearly every other good policy work from the Trump administration, Joe Biden and his hard-left handlers are undoing it. Rather than attempt to enact legitimate legislation through Congress, the Biden administration is, as our Nate Jackson put it, carpet-bombing us with executive orders. And so, eight days after taking office, Biden’s OCC announced that it was suspending the Trump administration’s Fair Access rule.

And why might it do that, except to revive Operation Choke Point, even if by another less suspicious name?

All this is part of a larger strategy: the Left’s politicization of the economy. As Kelsey Bolar writes in The Federalist, “For all intents and purposes, Operation Choke Point is happening every day on a massive scale, [including] a stranglehold on information, speech, and the broader marketplace of ideas. Concerningly, the government is now playing an active role. As exemplified by Parler and the recent Twitter purge, Big Tech is choking conservatives off their social media platforms while Democrats cheer it on.”

So much for the promise our 46th president made in his inaugural speech to “work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me as those who did.”

But that’s Joe Biden. Promises made, promises broken.

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