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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

All Bailout, All the Time

Let me say up front: I hate this issue. The financial mess, the multi-billion (or, let's be honest: trillion) dollar bailouts.

I hate it, because it feels like something really important, and I don't understand it well enough to have a real opinion. It's like I'm trying to run through knee-deep mud across a football field in time to catch the falling baby, except I think maybe it's just a doll.

And yet, I soldier on.

There's all kinds of stuff in The Hill today about the Fed’s $700 billion bailout plan. For example: Barack Obama has some demands:

Specifically, Obama says that in order to get his support, the measure “must include protections to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not used to further reward the bad behavior of irresponsible CEOs on Wall Street.”

In addition, Obama stated that “the power to spend $700 billion of taxpayer money cannot be left to the discretion of one man, no matter who he is or which party he is from."

“I have great respect for Secretary Paulson, but he cannot act alone,” he added.

The Democratic nominee also argued that, “if taxpayers are being asked to underwrite hundreds of billions of dollars to solve this crisis, they must be treated like investors” and “should share in the upside as Wall Street recovers.”

Lastly, Obama stated that “the final plan must provide help to families who are struggling to stay in their homes.”
The first point is standard boilerplate. The second sounds like Pat Buchanan. The third…well, considering the number of Americans who are also investors, that’s already going to happen. The fourth: whether that means it’ll cost more than $700 billion, I dunno.

Although I should point out that I have no idea where they came up with $700 billion in the first place. They might as well have thrown a dart.

Also from the Obama camp:

Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama on Tuesday acknowledged that the nation’s financial crisis may force him to "phase in" some of the programs he has vowed on the campaign trail to put in place.
Why would that be, do you suppose? Does he think his plans might be hard on the economy somehow?

Meanwhile, Newt Gingrich thinks incumbents who vote for the plan will lose their jobs:

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Tuesday that any lawmaker who votes for the Bush administration's $700 billion bailout package, which he called a “dead loser,” will face defeat in November.

…The former Speaker, talking to reporters at a lunch, added that he expects Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) to back the plan. He predicted that, if Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) ends up opposing the administration proposal, there will be an overnight “emergence of a McCain/reform wing of the Republican Party.”

Gingrich said that occurrence would turn the election on its head, with Republicans running ads that feature Obama with President Bush on the same team in pushing for a “nightmare” bailout plan.
That would be fun. This, on the other hand, I find hard to believe:

The former Speaker said that by November, the flaws in the plan will be apparent, and voters will “break against anyone who votes for it.”
But I guess we’ll see.

Meanwhile, the Republican Study Committee is set to unveil an alternate plan:

The House Republican Study Committee is set Tuesday to officially unveil its proposal to address the financial crisis through a “market-based” approach.

The conservative group, which has strong objections to a federal bailout that would cost hundreds of billions of dollars, is touting its plan as a “true alternative” to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s plan to rescue the financial markets.

The RSC plan, which will be unveiled at noon, calls for a two-year suspension of the capital gains tax.
I like the sound of that, although considering the makeup of Congress today, it might as well be the sound of a cat falling into a vat of burning pitch, for all the chance it's got.