So the much-vaunted Wall Street bailout didn’t pass, and immediately the finger-pointing started. Boehner blaming Pelosi’s speech on the floor, which I heard and it WAS very partisan. She could have made a much better speech without trying to lay the entirety of the current economic crises at the feet of the Republicans and the Bush administration. I think it’s pretty well known, at least among those who aren’t completely blinded by partisanship, that a during the Clinton administration mortgage companies, notably Fannie and Freddy, were REQUIRED to make loans to people who had very little hope of being able to pay them back. A Republican “lassies faire” attitude towards regulation hasn’t helped anything, but there’s plenty of blame to go around. And I give McCain props for at least admitting that. Obama, Pelosi, Barney Frank … none of them seem to be willing to admit that maybe their guys might have at least a little culpability for the current mess. They actually have a lot of culpability, and they don’t seem to be man, or woman, or leader enough to admit it.
Nancy Pelosi is probably the most partisan Speaker of the House since Newt Gingrich … without the Gingrich vision. I’m no huge fan of John Boehner, but it seems to me that if you really want to help lead the country out of a crisis, you don’t take the Speakers privilege spot at the end of the debate and play the blame game. You make a speech that tells why the bailout is good for the country. I think a speaker that wanted to reach across the aisle and get some opposition support for the bill might have made a speech that acknowledged that there was plenty of blame to go around. Nobody’s hands are clean in this mess, and for Pelosi and company to try to lay it all at the feet of the current administration is just disingenuous, short-sighted, and as transparent as a cheap Fredricks of Hollywood negligee. I might have had some respect for her is she’d have shown some national leadership instead of being a party hack.
I know the Democrats want this issue for the election. But this is not the time.
Of course, the Republicans aren’t much better, if at all. If they got their feelings hurt by Pelosi’s speech and decided that they were going to vote against the bailout for that reason, then they need to collectively grow a pair and do what’s right for the country rather than trying to make a political point. We learned back during the government shutdown during the Clinton administration that the Democrats are better at spinning the media and placing blame. there was no way Gingrich should have gotten all the heat for that, but that’s the way it played in the press.
On the larger issue of the bailout … I really have mixed feelings. I think it’s probably necessary on some level, though I’m not sure the taxpayers need to be on the hook for the $700 (b) billion. I don’t think the government has any business setting compensation packages for CEO’s, but I also don’t think CEO’s should be rewarded for putting the entire economy at risk. You’d think that companies would be smart enough to write a CEO contract that didn’t give a golden parachute to a CEO that basically runs a company into the ground … but they do.
My other issue is, I pay my mortgage on time. I got a loan that I could afford on a house that is wonderful, but modest. I looked for a house I could afford, got a mortgage that made sense for me and that I had a reasonable expectation to be able to repay. I don’t doubt that there are some people out there in foreclosure who truly need assistance … that they find themselves in that situation literally though no fault of their own, and yes, perhaps they should be helped to keep their homes.
But I’d be willing to bet they are a tiny, tiny fraction of the number of mortgages in foreclosure.
So, as a taxpayer, I’m going to be asked to pay my mortgage, and some of someone else’s. I really don’t see how that’s fair. And I know, fair is rides and cotton candy and funnel cakes and farm animals … but I already pay my mortgage. I was responsible … played by the rules … didn’t over-extend and buy more house than I could afford, or try to make a big pile of money flipping real estate or buying investment properties … and now that the buzzards have returned to Hinkley, Ohio, I’m going to be asked to bail them out. And that makes me a little angry.
OK … a lot angry.
Still, for the overall good of the economy, I’m willing to not reflexively vote against anyone who votes FOR what ever bailout is now negotiated. And I think it’s a foregone conclusion that there WILL be a bailout. Maybe having this first one go down to defeat is a good thing. They’ll go back look again, and hopefully come up with something that protects ME as a taxpayer just a little bit, as well as rescuing the economy. That may be too much to ask.
Make no mistake. This is exactly what those people who are elected to go to Washington get paid to do. John McCain was right on that score, even if it is being played as a political stunt. There was some stuntiness to it, I’m sure. But now that the rush is off, maybe they’ll really get a bi-partisan bill and not make ridiculous political speeches before the vote. If there was EVER a time to put partisanship aside, we are there. Just STFU, get to work, and TRY to get this mess resolved.
Is it any wonder that the Congressional approval rating is 20 points below the Presidents?
I almost forgot. On This American Life a couple of months ago, there was an outstanding primer on how we wound up in this mess. For a plain-language non-partisan look at how we got where we are … click here. It’s a very enlightening hour explaining the Giant Pool of Money. Listen to the whole thing …