Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who didn’t see fit to pay his own income taxes, may soon have the authority to watch over your financial transactions, thanks to a new federal agency that would be created in the Democrats’ financial overhaul bill. The Office of Financial Research, straight out of a George Orwell novel, would serve as a central repository of transaction records generated at private financial companies. Geithner, along with an unspecified number of bureaucrats that he hires, will have unlimited access for “statistical analysis and research” of the nation’s financial institutions — supposedly for the purpose of spotting systemic problems that will allow them to act before another meltdown.
This agency is the latest in the series of unconstitutional power grabs that Democrats have grown accustomed to since Barack Obama became president. It violates American citizens’ Fourth Amendment guarantee of security in their “persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures” and its imprecise language leaves plenty of room for expanding the agency’s activities without congressional approval. The type of information access that Democrats seek would not have enabled them to prevent the financial meltdown of 2008, but it would allow bureaucrats who work for this agency the opportunity to share their privileged information with the private sector one year after leaving the agency. So, ironically, the Office of Financial Research simply presents our bloated government even more opportunity for further corruption and mismanagement of the economy.
In other financial “reform” news, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT), the architect of the legislation, has agreed to drop the $50 billion bailout fund in an effort to get Republicans onboard. While Dodd is making concessions, though, Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is making accusations, claiming that Republicans are stalling because “they are having difficulty determining how they’re going to continue making love to Wall Street” if the bill passes. You’re a class act, Harry.