Believe it or not, elements of the left are arguing for a gag rule on TARP funds recipients. And getting smacked down. Firedoglake's Jane Hamsher leads the charge against recipients of TARP funds being free to express their views on pending legislation, even if the speech is exercised by their market analysts. Tom Maguire, who can explain the free market better than almost anyone, takes her on with devastating analysis. Here's the set up, read through to the denouement of her preposterous argument:
Free speech for TARP recipients? Jane Hamsher thinks not.
Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake surely considers herself a champion of civil liberties (and an ally of Big Labor). However, her view of legitimate dissent and free speech seems oddly cramped - apparently, equity analysts in the employ of Citigroup should not be allowed to express opinions contrary to the views held by Ms. Hamsher. Her attitude is mostly amusing, but depending on how influential these lefty blogs become or how widely shared her views are on the left this could become be scary - sort of a McCain-Feingold for TARP recipients and their clients, i.e., everyone. Here we go:
This is startling for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that they're downgrading the stock based on an assumption that a piece of legislation will pass that hasn't even been introduced yet.
The Citigroup analyst, Debora Weinswig, said Employee Free Choice (EFCA) "could be a significant drag to earnings."
It's hard to view this as anything other than a reckless and overt political act on the part of a company, Citigroup, that has made stupendously bad business decisions with dire economic consequences necessitating billions in taxpayer bailouts, at a time when the market can ill-afford it.