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Anti-Competitive Rules? It’s Been Obama’s Agenda

I didn’t know whether to laugh or weep watching Rachel Maddow last night as she pleaded with her friend Gene to talk her off another ledge, this one driven by the fear our President has completely sold out to corporate capture and Republican frames defending it.

Don’t jump, Rachel, call them out. Hint: He’s not on your side.

The latest affront was the White House release of an Executive Order directing regulatory agencies to review their rules and scrub any that might be anti-competitive or costing U.S. jobs. Thank you, President Romney, for the ridiculous notion that America’s near 10 percent unemployment is caused by anti-business regulations.

Add to that Obama’s choice of Chief of Staff and other appointments getting rave reviews from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, plus his making Bernie Sanders wonder how any President, let alone a Democrat, could even consider slashing Social Security, a move that would logically force more older workers into a depressed labor market. He’s not a Dem, and not very smart either, Bernie.

But you have to wonder about any corporatist President pretending to care one bit about protecting genuine competition, and especially one whose two major legislative achievements were to ensure neither the largest banks and Wall Street banksters nor the nation’s largest health insurers and providers would have to face meaningful competition.

The thrust of the financial “reform” bill was to make sure the MOTU remained in power, now larger and more concentrated than they were before they destroyed and looted the U.S. financial system. The “regulatory reform” was deliberately structured to minimize statutory limits on the banksters’ size or behavior and leave as much discretion as possible in the hands of the President’s pro-bank appointees. President Tea-GOP will know what to do. More from Simon Johnson, here.

The Affordable [Care] Act was similarly designed to shield most insurers and health providers from competition, probably the only thing Republicans don’t object to. Hospitals are rushing to merge to take advantage in response, and the anti-trust agencies are sitting on their hands. Meanwhile, insurers watch warily, campaign checks at the ready, for any renewed efforts to create a public alternative, an escape from the anti-competitive market Americans will now be forced to enter.

And do we need to mention Obama’s coddling of PhRMA drugsters for all the anti-competitive measures, patent extensions, anti-compete shields they got in the deal in exchange for going silent when the Tea-GOPers try to sack even the worthwhile features?

Yesterday, two nominal Democratic appointees, including Mr. Obama’s Chairman, said it’s fine if America’s largest cable conglomerate gobbled up one of the major media broadcasters and entertainment conglomerates. Their competitors and users, outraged at the potential for discriminatory access and predatory pricing are left wondering what happened to fairness and justice, but the Department of Justice, assigned to enforce the nation’s anti-trust laws, seems to have lost its copy.

And in coming months we’ll watch Obama and the Chamber of Commerce rally Congress to ratify treaties that enable the Chamber’s largest contributors to ship US manufacturing jobs overseas.

It’s bad enough that this faux Democratic President continues to adopt Republican frames against responsible regulation of America’s rapacious corporate regime. But pretending this has anything to do with advancing genuine competition or protecting American jobs is insulting.

Shahien Nasiripour at HuffPo, Trillion-dollar banks could get bigger under financial overhaul law

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John has been writing for Firedoglake since 2006 or so, on whatever interests him. He has a law degree, worked as legal counsel and energy policy adviser for a state energy agency for 20 years and then as a consultant on electricity systems and markets. He's now retired, living in Massachusetts.

You can follow John on twitter: @JohnChandley