Congress and the Bush administration have been putting in some long hours. They did not get the weekend off like many of the rest of us. "Bailout bill day of reckoning," is how Politico's David Rogers defines today's Congressional sessions. After several days of negotiation and debating a deal was struck on a 100+ page bill upon which the U.S. House will soon vote. Some say presidential politics intervened. Do you suppose? This is "The Photo McCain Wanted#," according to an Op-Ed by E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post. [Photo: From left, Sen. John McCain, House Minority Leader John Boehner, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Bush and Sen. Barack Obama at the White House. (By Pablo Martinez Monsivais -- Associated Press)] To quote:
"John McCain's sudden intervention could not have been more out of sync with what was actually happening."
The presidential candidates got dragged into it, surprise, surprise! Perhaps Senator Obama got dragged, but Senator McCain jumped in feet first. His corporate constituents demanded it. Make no mistake. Senator McCain is deeply embedded in the corporate culture, and it started decades ago with a similar scandal bringing the savings and loan industry to its knees. McCain got off lightly in the ethics investigation of that episode. He blazed the trail for the current administration's excesses and deep deficits. Our current president, George W. Bush, deserves one of the common epithets hurled at him. It is that he has behaved like a cowboy. One of my favorite sages put it this way: "Wall Street deregulated into Wild West." Headlining the crisis as "Cowboy economics#," it was penned by Garrison Keillor (9/24/08) in The Chicago Tribune. To quote:
It's just human nature that some calamities register in the brain and others don't. The train engineer texting at the throttle ("HOW R U? C U L8R") and missing the red light and 25 people die in the crash—oh, God, that is way too real—everyone has had a moment of supreme stupidity that came close to killing somebody. Even atheists say a little prayer now and then: Dear God, I am an idiot, thank you for protecting my children.
The banking and credit industry clearly wants its cake and to eat it, too, as the saying goes. The crisis came to this because of greed, ineptitude and irresponsibility in the lassez-faire corporatocracy that governs the U.S. This story lays it out more clearly. It is "Banks love bailout, hate credit card curbs#," by David Lazarus at Consumer Confidential, September 28 2008. To quote:
You've got to love the banking industry.
As our friends in the financial sector were passing the hat among taxpayers last week for $700 billion in bailouts to cover their crappy mortgage investments, they were simultaneously condemning the House of Representatives' passage of a "Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights," which aims to crack down on some of the industry's more troublesome practices. . .
HR 5244 -- A Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights would level the playing field by protecting consumers from questionable late fees and sudden rate hikes, and requiring clear disclosure of terms and conditions. That doesn't seem too much to ask of an industry that has no problem asking taxpayers to cover its bad bets. Enjoy the bailout, boys. This isn't over yet."
The general public sees it is good news or bad news that all these people have been putting in all-nighters trying to get a handle on the current credit crisis. It all depends on which side you are on. One side favors no bail-out for this bunch of rich losers. The other side says it will eventually impact on all of us, so we must intervene. Columnist Jack Smith (9/26/08) at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram thinks that "Americans [are] facing some very hard questions#." He begins his Op-Ed this way:
I hate to lay the bad news on John McCain and Barack Obama, but whoever is sworn in as president on Jan. 20 can expect a brutally difficult 2009. Some economists are forecasting a real turkey of a year. To me, it’s looking even worse — a Cornish game hen year.
Indeed, the chickens are finally coming home to roost, due in great part to America’s many irresponsible actions, both collectively and individually. It looks as if we’re headed not only for a national recession, but also a global economic downturn. The world’s financial markets are in a debilitating dither, the U.S. stock market has been cratering since October, energy prices remain high and America has lost 605,000 jobs in the past year.
. . . America also needs to re-examine its moral fiber.
We need to ask ourselves whether we are increasingly becoming a nation of selfish, shortsighted people who lie about our incomes to avoid taxes or buy homes we can’t afford; irresponsibly ring up huge credit-card debts in our quest for instant gratification; insist on cutting federal income tax rates and expanding deductions but aren’t willing to take the tough fiscal actions needed to slash federal budget deficits; complain about high energy costs but buy 4,000-square-foot homes and drive behemoth gas-gulpers; and fail to vote in local elections but gripe when City Hall doesn’t do what we want.
I am of two minds about whether Congress is truly doing all of this for us or not. My logical, rational side can accept the actual severity of the crisis. My intuitive side believes that it did not happen at this time in the election cycle by accident, that it is the October surprise, come a bit early. Which do you think it is?
- CQ Behind the Lines (9/24/08) -- To quote:
Feds: While Mike Chertoff’s recent Brookings address focused on infrastructure, “it had the feeling both of a valedictory and a defense of the Bush administration’s free market oriented guiding philosophy,” Government Security News’ Louis Chunovic thoughtfully dissects.
- Tracking the Market Crisis at ProPublica -- Check out the essential reading we gathered on the topic.
- "BAILOUTS: THE WOUND THAT WILL KEEP ON HEMORRHAGING#," by Devvy Kidd (9/25/08)-- This is an excellent read on the history of the banks taking over the U.S. Treasury. Many good quotes from people that have given warning about this since Woodrow Wilson established the Federal Reserve in 1913.
Hat Tip Key: Regular contributors of links to leads are "betmo*" and Jon#.View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.
(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)
My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.