Democrats are a hypocritical bunch, aren’t they? They’re hyperventilating over the Arizona immigration bill, comparing it to Nazi Germany and saying it is a civil rights violation. They argue for the right to have an abortion based on the so-called right to privacy.
But when it comes to the privacy of your financial information and bank records, privacy and civil rights go out the window. Tim Geithner needs that information, and I doubt there’s a single Democrat willing to stop him.
The next time you make a withdrawal from an automated teller machine, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner might be watching over your shoulder. Boosted by the sweeping, 1,400-page financial regulatory proposal currently making its way through the Senate, Mr. Geithner would have unprecedented, real-time access to a wealth of personal and corporate financial data – all in the name of protecting the public.
The legislation, sponsored by Senate banking committee Chairman Christopher J. Dodd, would create the innocuously named Office of Financial Research as a central repository for transaction-related records held by financial companies. According to proponents, “decision-makers” like Mr. Geithner need up-to-the-minute information to act in order to prevent what they refer to as another Wall Street meltdown. The proposed agency would also provide statistical analysis and research, purportedly to monitor systemic risk to the financial system.
The idea raises a number of red flags, not least of which is the plan’s fundamentally flawed premise that a central committee of unelected bureaucrats would be qualified to judge what’s right and what’s wrong for the economy. Our economic woes of the past three years would not have been solved had Treasury officials been armed with crisper charts and more accurate PowerPoint slides.
Yet the details of the proposal show that this new agency’s mission is not meant to be limited to improving the quality of financial data. Mr. Dodd’s legislation would grant the agency director the coercive power of subpoena to obtain records and rulemaking authority to force private-sector firms to maintain their internal financial records in a format acceptable to the government. The legislation also grants sweeping authority to maintain a data center that would collect and maintain “all data necessary” to carry out the director’s wishes. Needless to say, the government’s history of losing hard drives and laptops filled with sensitive information suggests entrusting more to a federal agency is not a smart idea.
Of more concern is how the proposed law treats government employees with legal access to this gold mine of information. Bureaucrats would be allowed to exploit their knowledge of market conditions as private-sector consultants one year after leaving the agency. Not only would individuals who had such privileged access to confidential information command a high price in the private sector, they also would be equally rewarded while employed at public expense.
The Arizona ACLU is already planning a lawsuit against the state of Arizona over the alleged “civil rights violations” in the new immigration law. But they apparently have no objection to this invasion of privacy.
I’m also curious exactly how this has anything to do with financial reform or regulating Wall Street. Isn’t that supposed to be the whole point of this bill? Yet Democrats, unshockingly, have snuck in this nasty little extra that will accomplish what, besides unlimited and unauthorized access to the confidential financial records of Americans?
Even scarier, as noted in the Washington Times article, is that the government workers aren’t even sworn to confidentiality. And that can cause big problems. As a JP Morgan Chase executive notes,
“In real time, this office could be monitoring how an investment bank creates sole purpose entities and moves funding around for deal-making, real estate purchases, that kind of thing… That’s not the kind of information anyone would want to have being shared, particularly if the government could in some way be a competitor. And the way things are going with financial institutions, that’s increasingly a real possibility.”
The fun doesn’t stop there:
Under language in the bill, neither entity would be subject to Congressional budget or appropriations processes. The head of the CFPB would be presidentially nominated and confirmed by the Senate.
Perhaps more chilling, the data collected by these new entities would not be protected or necessarily confidential. Rather, Senate staff believe in reading the bill introduced and negotiated by Sen. Chris Dodd, data collected by the offices could be shared with other government agencies, including executive branch agencies such as the IRS.
In the name of regulating Wall Street, Democrats are really giving themselves more power and access into our lives. This, like everything else the Democrats are doing right now, is about controlling every aspect of the American life. We can’t be trusted to make any of our own decisions. We have to bow down to the almighty wisdom of people like Nancy Pelosi and Timmy Geithner.
I just would like to know — where are are of the liberals upset about this civil rights violation? The liberals upset about the breach of privacy? The lack of outrage over this is, well, outrageous.
This is one bill that needs to be stopped. You can find your senator’s contact information here.
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