My colleague Andrew Grossman has a piece discussing the bill of attainder and takings issues. While the legal issues can be murky, the claims of congressmen who voted yesterday saying that the tax was not intended to punish (which would trigger the bill of attainder question) don’t even pass the laugh test. More important, however, is the cautionary tale this creates — one that Jonah touched on yesterday when he said that there was too much to be mad about. Andrew’s money quote on the issue of rage:
Taxpayers should be outraged that they are being asked to make large deferred compensation payments to employees of companies that have received billions in government aid, but this type of situation is the inevitable result of government intervention in the private sector. That is where outrage should be directed.
Indeed, the moment the government is a prominent shareholder, every business decision gets put through the political gristmill. And this only fuels a not insignificant number of Washington decision-makers who think that they should be able to limit the compensation of executives who aren’t receiving government bailouts.