I wish I could be as happy as James is about the resolution of this Boeing fiasco, but I’m not — not by a long shot. It is infuriating to see the impunity with which the Obama administration persecutes private businesses even when it knows that its actions are probably illegal and stand a good chance of being tossed out of court. And the problem is systemic; in fact, we should thank the Obama administration for demonstrating just how little protection private businesses have from the abuses of the federal government under current law.
Under the terms of the agreement Boeing reached with its union this week, the company will be allowed to build additional Dreamliners at its new South Carolina plant, so long as it builds future 737 MAX planes in Washington. I can understand why reasonable people are happy about that, but it’s hard to believe that the federal government even had the power to prevent Boeing from opening its new plant there in the first place.
It’s too bad that the NLRB action was never fully adjudicated in federal court because the Obama administration would almost certainly have lost. But the bigger picture is this: The administration doesn’t care if most its actions are tossed out by federal courts. As long as some of them are upheld it can claim success. What businesspeople and lawyers call “litigation risk” — the risk that you will be sued for something — doesn’t enter into the Obama administration’s calculations, because it can always hire more lawyers to defend it at the Department of Justice, and sovereign immunity typically protects it from compensating people for the losses it causes.
The EPA is facing hundreds of lawsuits for rules and enforcement actions of dubious legality; its persecution of Range Resources Corp. should have been a national scandal. The Dept. of Interior’s moratorium on offshore drilling in the Gulf was thrown out of federal court multiple times, but the administration found a way to make the drilling rigs leave the Gulf anyway, by refusing to process permits. The administration has heartlessly eliminated tens of thousands of jobs along the Gulf Coast through its barely legal moves to constrain oil production in the Gulf. Now it’s preventing the completion of a major pipeline from Canada.
Across the country you can see evidence of Obama’s war on the American economy — a senseless ideological campaign that will hopefully serve America as an example of how not to do things for a long time to come.
— Mario Loyola is director of the Center for Tenth Amendment Studies at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.