The enforcement program has a name – “Operation Chokepoint” – and as more details of the program become public, more concerns are raised. The “chokepoint” in this operation is the nation’s payments infrastructure, the means by which merchants process nearly $5 trillion in consumer purchases in the U.S. each year. Federal law enforcers are targeting merchant categories like payday lenders, ammunition and tobacco sales, and telemarketers – but not merely by pursuing those merchants directly. Rather, Operation Chokepoint is flooding payments companies that provide processing service to those industries with subpoenas, civil investigative demands, and other burdensome and costly legal demands.
The theory behind this enforcement program has superficial logic: increase the legal and compliance costs of serving certain disfavored merchant categories, and payments companies will simply stop providing service to such merchants.
The really sad part is that this matters so little to so many. “This President is perfectly within his rights to use the power of Government any way he chooses,” his defenders will say. “So what, he evolved on gay marriage, so let him put some businesses under,” they’ll say. Also, “You’re a racist for questioning anything this President does.”
Freedom, it was good while it lasted.