- The Washington Times - Monday, August 24, 2009

Government coercion is becoming standard operating procedure in the nation’s capital.

The White House threatened financial institutions with ruin by selectively enforcing regulations unless they agreed to take government bailout money. Similar threats were used to force financial institutions to let the government own part of their stock. Those same institutions were forced to take losses on the bonds they held in General Motors and Chrysler. It was only a matter of time until similar intimidating behavior was employed in the health care debate.

Democrats are unhappy that parts of the private insurance industry are opposing the government health care takeover. The reaction is chilling. Politico reports that by Sept. 4, “the firms are supposed to supply the government with detailed compensation data for board members and top executives as well as a ‘table listing all conferences, retreats, or other events held outside company facilities from January 1, 2007, to the present that were paid for, reimbursed, or subsidized in whole or in part by your company.’ ” For highly paid employees or officers, the companies are required to provide detailed “salary, bonus, options and pension” information.

The pharmaceutical industry — which is putting up between $150 million and $200 million to promote government health care — isn’t being forced to provide this information. Neither is anyone else. The only firms being targeted for investigation are those in a sector openly fighting reform.

The target is obvious. On July 22, Mr. Obama warned, “Right now, at the time when everybody’s getting hammered, [insurance companies are] making record profits and premiums are going up.” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “[Insurance companies] are the villains. They have been part of the problem in a major way. They are doing everything in their power to stop a public option from happening.”

Thuggish behavior by politicians is a valid reason not to give them even more power over people’s lives.