We blogged yesterday on the lawless re-write of corporate tax law by Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew that led to the abandonment of a merger of Pfizer and the Ireland-based Allergan.

The Treasury issued new rules that made it harder for companies to remain competitive by merging with foreign companies to escape crippling U.S. corporate tax rate. Allergan shares (held by many American funds and individuals) plummeted on the announcement of the new rules, even though Pfizer will have to fork over a $150 million break-up fee to Allergan. It looks like a lose-lose for everybody.  

So a Wall Street Journal editorial that takes note of the "candid reaction" of Pfizer CEO Ian Read to the administration's actions is especially interesting:

Pfizer CEO Ian Read defends the company’s planned merger in an op-ed nearby, and his larger point about capricious political power helps explain the economic malaise of the last seven years. “If the rules can be changed arbitrarily and applied retroactively, how can any U.S. company engage in the long-term investment planning necessary to compete,” Mr. Read writes. “The new ‘rules’ show that there are no set rules. Political dogma is the only rule.”

He’s right, as every CEO we know will admit privately. This politicization has spread across most of the economy during the Obama years, as regulators rewrite longstanding interpretations of longstanding laws in order to achieve the policy goals they can’t or won’t negotiate with Congress. Telecoms, consumer finance, for-profit education, carbon energy, auto lending, auto-fuel economy, truck emissions, home mortgages, health care and so much more.

Capital investment in this recovery has been disappointingly low, and one major reason is political intrusion into every corner of business decision-making. To adapt Mr. Read, the only rule is that the rules are whatever the Obama Administration wants them to be. The results have been slow growth, small wage gains, and a growing sense that there is no legal restraint on the political class.

The Journal observed that many CEOs remain mum about government policies in the Age of Obama, remembering  that J.P. Morgan faced punishment after Morgan's Jamie Dimond spoke out against some parts of Dodd-Frank. Glad Mr. Read is speaking up.

Americans need to know that slow growth and small wage gains are the price we pay for the Obama administration's capricious pursuit of its political ends through regulation.