Administration wrong for labeling businesses

One old warning about totalitarian regimes cautions they can harm you solely because dictators and their lackeys don’t like the way you comb your hair. Here in the United States, we pride ourselves on being a nation of laws, not of people who abuse their power that way.

But it appears President Barack Obama’s administration has taken us a long step in the wrong direction.

A Justice Department initiative, “Operation Choke Point,” is hurting businesses that administration finds objectionable, such as gun dealers. Officials in the agency are well aware of that aspect of the operation.

A House of Representatives investigation notes Operation Choke Point is supposed to involve credit card fraud. As part of the campaign, Justice Department officials have investigated multiple banks and payment processors based solely on their clientele.

If a bank’s client is deemed a “high-risk” business, the financial institution comes under increased scrutiny by regulators. No one likes that, so some banks have stopped doing business with “high-risk” clients.

“High-risk” lists were compiled by the agency based on the type of business involved. Gun and ammunition dealers, as well as payday lenders, found themselves on the lists. That affected their relationships with banks and payment processors adversely.

It is no coincidence that such businesses, while perfectly legal, are disliked by the president and many in his administration. Operation Choke Point is one way for Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to hurt them.

Meanwhile, of course, the administration is encouraging banks to deal with marijuana growers and sellers.

Labeling businesses as risky because you don’t like what they sell is wrong. Congress should put a stop to it.