Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared in an interview on The Today Show this morning and decried the “unfairness” of an economy where businesses on Wall Street are recovering, but where Americans still don’t have jobs. Quoth Geithner: “It’s not fair, it’s deeply unfair, and [Americans] should be angry about it.”
The concern over “unfairness” is the unsettling ethos underlying President Obama’s economic agenda and, specifically, his proposed tax on America’s banks, intended to recoup dollars shelled out under the bailout program.
President Obama aims to tax banks who received bailout money, despite the fact that they’ve already paid back the bailout money. That policy might “feel” good or sound good to those who are angry at Wall Street, but in practice it isn’t good. Consumers – those same unemployed Americans whose pain Geithner so deeply feels – will be the ones who pay that penalty.
Despite Geithner’s concern over being “fair,” the president is awfully willing to accept unfairness in order to achieve his political ends. The bank tax, itself, is patently unfair. Firms who already paid-back bailout dollars will be taxed in order to “pay for” the bailout, but firms who haven’t repaid bailout dollars (General Motors, Chrysler, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) get off scot free.
Then there’s the inherent unfairness of the backroom deals secured to pass the president’s health care plan. The president picked winners and losers to win the votes he needed. There’s nothing fair about giving away the farm to a select few, while others are left out in the cold.
Fairness is defined as “being free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism.” That’s not the kind of treatment the president is doling out. It’s a paradox of logic, it’s a philosophical compass gone haywire, and it’s what’s guiding the president’s economic policies.