Politics

Biden White House signals pessimism about election in surprising way

It’s not just atrocious polls that suggest President Joe Biden will lose in November; it’s also the behavior of the White House. In just the past few weeks, the Biden administration has rolled out over a dozen new initiatives and rules, many of them – like banning development of Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve — likely to impact our country far into the future. It’s a startling avalanche of executive activity.

Call me crazy, but that looks like a White House panicked that its days are numbered.

Who can blame them? A new national CNN poll shows Trump leading the president by six points, one of the biggest gaps yet; more important, Fox News surveys have Trump inching ahead in several critical swing states. 

Bad polls, an unpopular president, disruptive protests at home and rising threats around the world, sinking consumer confidence and resurgent inflation; all signs point to defeat in November. Hence, the whirlwind of regulations, which includes the following:

1. New FTC rules that ban non-compete agreements;

2. A re-write of Title IX;

3. EEOC charges of racism against a company because they avoided hiring criminals;

4. More federal help on student loans;

5. FTC preventing the merger of two luxury goods makers;

6. New overtime rules;

7. New regulations detailing airline refunds;

8. New decision restricting drilling in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve;

9. FTC blocking hospital group mergers;

10. New power plant emissions rules;

11. Putting on hold a ban on menthol cigarettes;

12. A revamp of school lunch mandates, reducing sugar and salt.

The Biden administration appears to be preparing for the worst, pushing through policies that could be overturned if passed later in the year. Congress has 60 days to nix rules promulgated by federal agencies with a simple majority; if there’s a red wave, Biden diktats adopted in the traditional ‘lame duck’ session would likely disappear. The Trump administration employed that tool successfully, ditching several policies rolled out late in President Obama’s second term; Biden returned the favor when he came to office.

Some decisions, like forgiving student loans or not banning menthol cigarettes which are favored by Blacks, are obviously meant to attract targeted voters. Others seem to scratch a progressive itch, like the upending of long-standing employment laws. 

Voters should wonder: Is all of this activism well-thought-out? The answer is almost surely no. After all, these are the folks that forced Detroit automakers to go all-in on EVs, sure that Americans were ready to abandon their gas-guzzling SUVs.  

Consider the FTC, led by the reckless ideologue Lina Khan. Under Khan’s guidance, the FTC has clamped down on corporate merger activity. Most recently, the agency sued to block luxury fashion firm Tapestry’s acquisition of Capri. Tapestry owns Coach, Stuart Weitzman and Kate Spade, while Capri owns the Versace, Jimmy Choo and Michael Kors labels.  

Henry Liu, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition claims, ‘This deal threatens to deprive consumers of the competition for affordable handbags…’ Forgive me, but only a man could utter such nonsense. Any woman will tell you that there are a gazillion handbag makers, and that they compete mainly on style and image, not price. And, frankly, that few of them are ‘affordable.’ 

This is one of many examples of the FTC interfering with the normal pursuit of business. Fashion is fickle; companies continually add names and brands to survive. Liu has no idea what he is talking about. 

But we cannot dismiss this FTC intervention as insignificant. The Biden White House, just like that of President Obama, is tragically lacking in business leaders, and in common sense. 

Lina Khan is a typical progressive Biden appointee, who is now compiling an impressive record of overreach and defeat. She failed to prevent Meta from acquiring the virtual reality company Within, failed to keep Microsoft from buying Activision and will probably fail in her effort to keep grocers Albertson and Kroger from combining.  She denies that mergers can create efficiencies and lower costs for consumers. As an undergraduate, she wrote a paper criticizing Amazon for being big; if Khan had been in charge, Americans would not be enjoying the obvious convenience of the world’s largest online retailer. 

It isn’t just the FTC which, by the way, is also behind the outrageous and sure to be overturned ban on non-compete agreements. Consider the new Department of Transportation demands that airlines must ‘immediately’ refund money for delayed or canceled flights and reimburse passengers for equipment issues like non-working TVs. Talks about adding headaches to an industry constantly toggling between profits and losses! What the government should be doing is investing in critical air traffic control equipment and infrastructure; let consumers punish airlines that don’t treat them fairly. 

Some of the White House’s most enduring and damaging new rules have to do with energy. Biden is desperate to shore up his bona fides with the environmental lobby, and so has added new restrictions on domestic oil and gas development. Consequently, he just banned exploration of a vast swath of Alaska’s huge National Petroleum Reserve, even though the region contains some of our country’s most promising prospects and despite support for drilling from the state’s native population. 

In addition, the president’s EPA has recently issued new power plant emissions rules that could force the closure of many coal-fired power plants, even as demand for electricity expands. It also requires by 2032 wide-spread use of carbon-capture technology that does not yet exist on a large scale.  Similar rules adopted by the Obama administration were overturned by the Supreme Court in 2016; critics claimed executive overreach. The Biden team’s approach, which could undermine the nation’s energy security, is likely to meet the same fate.  

These are not sensible policies; they are the wish-list and fantasies of a progressive White House not likely to pay the price for their damaging meddling. Here’s hoping.

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