February 19, 2021
Amongst the record-breaking number of executive actions taken by President Joe Biden was one related to a little-known, frightening Obama-era program called Operation Choke Point. The program, dubbed so under former Attorney General Eric Holder, uses the power of the federal government to target legal yet leftist-disfavored businesses. These include gun sellers, pawnshops, and short-term money lenders.
The Trump administration did its best to end this blatantly unconstitutional program that sought to discriminate against legal industries. In 2017, the Justice Department declared the program “formally over.” At the end of Trump’s term, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency established the Fair Access rule to solidify its culmination.
The Backstory of Operation Choke Point
The Trump administration rule appeared innocuous enough, instructing banks to “conduct risk assessments of individual customers, rather than make broad-based decisions affecting whole categories or classes of customers when providing access to services, capital, and credit.”
Under Operation Choke Point, federal regulators instructed banks to do the opposite — to openly discriminate against entire industries the Obama administration found objectionable. Weaponizing the power of banking regulators at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Office of Comptroller of the Currency, the Obama administration realized it could block entire industries from the banking system that it didn’t like. This made it difficult — if not impossible — for politically unfavored businesses such as gun sellers and short-term lenders to operate.