Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Sowell on the Bailout

Tom reminds us that it was the Bush administration that tried and failed to regulate Fannie. More than that, there were prescient warnings from the administration that the prospect of the inevtiable bailout would enable their excessively risky business, which the Democrats hailed. Fannie and Freddie don’t deserve to be bailed out, but rather phased out. But it’s still the case the ordinary guy shouldn’t be forced to bear most of the burden of all this irresponsibility.

And just to show you how quickly my thinking can "evolve," it’s no longer clear to me that voting NO yesterday was all that stupid. Individual representatives didn’t think their vote should cost them their seats, and their calls and letters really were suggesting that they would have to pay the ultimate price. Meanwhile, the Democrats can’t afford to act without the Republicans, given the unpopularity of any kind of bailout. So the Republicans remain in a good bargaining position and can certainly get more concessions.

A genuinely bipartisan deal would create a situation where neither party could campaign for or against the bailout. It seems that Pelosi really did violate the "subtext" of the deal, if deal there was. McCain would obviously benefit from getting the perception of crisis behind us, and by anything tht would improve the economy short-term. But maybe the Democrats don’t obviously benefit from extended national reflection on why the bailout is necessary.

Discussions - 19 Comments

But maybe the Democrats don’t obviously benefit from extended national reflection on why the bailout is necessary. I am persuadable on this point . . . though not hopeful. It is a very tough sell given all the political obstacles.

On the other hand, I do agree that when there is such a massive public outcry about a thing there either must be some element of truth to their complaint or some massive failure of communication on the part of those in power. I still tend to think it is more the latter than the former . . . though I understand and don't discount the complaint.

Peter: they didn't try very hard. This narrative is way too kind to the Bush administration - they pulled support from a bill because Congress wanted to have a say on the controversial receivership provision, and nobody tried to negotiate between the Republican-supported Senate bill in 2005 and the bipartisan House bill (the latter of which is always left out of accounts that herald Bush and Mccain's efforts in this regard).

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own or guarantee nearly half of the nation’s $12 trillion mortgage market. Half of the ordinary guys with mortgages in the US live in houses owned or guaranteed by one of those two entities. Yes, that ought not be the case and Sowell also says there ought never have been such agencies. But the fact is, this is our reality. Most of those people will not default on their loans. The properties are still there and have not vaporized. American homes are good investments. America is a good investment. Which leads me to wonder the following; given that we are not in a financial meltdown this week, have we argued our way past the crisis point? I usually prefer a do-nothing Congress. If we somehow got past the state of crisis, maybe something less drastic than $700 billion of remedy is in order? If the economy can manage while Congress does nothing in terms of bailing anyone out, might we just have a political case for phasing out government involvement in such matters?

Bush didn't really "try." He made a few comments, that went nowhere, and he let it drop. Which has often been his way.

He saw there were problems looming down the highway, ------------- and lacked the gumption to tackle them.

To have taken on Fannie/Freddie, would have required going after the Democrats for dominanting those institutions, and for their manner in running 'em. That would have been entirely too partisan for Bush, who shied away from open confrontation. So that was never on the table.

Same with McCain.

He too saw it all coming. But lacked the stomach to directly take on the Democrats, who used those institutions as cozy sinecures for high level Dem staffers.

And take a look at the market today. Some guys put it together that there are amazing deals to be had out there, and they're buying. We're supposed to be in a market meltdown, ------------------------- could it possibly be that the Dems at Treasury HYPED the situation? Treasury is CONTROLLED by Democrats. Isn't it likely that one of them gave a heads-up to their peers on Congress, about what was coming. Yesterday testimony revealed that Treasury plucked a huge number, figuratively out of a hat. And that they've NO real plan about how the money is to be allocated. Aren't these worrying signs about the worthwhileness of this bailout plan?

Last night Conservative noteworthies were excoriating their own for failing to provide political cover to Pelosi.

??????????????????????????

What was that all about?

Dems in tough races were voting against it, but Republicans, who weren't responsible for this nightmare, were somehow supposed to vote for it, while they were getting blamed for holding the whole show up, ------------ and somehow Conservative commentators were content to blast their own for their alleged tardinesss in getting with the program.

This is political idiocy of a high order.

IF Pelosi is convinced of the emergency bailout, --------------- why isn't Congress voting on it right now? Why the delay? Wasn't this supposed to prevent a market meltdown?

There's all kinds of things going on around this deal that should make all Republicans stay well away from it.

Let the Dems take responsibility for it. Let them get a weak and ill-informed President to sign off on it.

And let Republicans take it to the people.

And PETER, Dick Morris says McCain has to seize the issue, NOT run away from it. He says he needs to reject root and branch the entire bailout plan, and the very basis of the bailout plan. Morris says McCain needs to publicly embrace the Republican plan, {which he says has merit, is much cheaper, and in addition, makes perfect political sense}. You can listen to his comments on Dennis Prager's TOWNHALL site, for he was on with Prager yesterday.

Moreover, he says that McCain has to go negative NOW. Start a wave of attacks on Obama unlike anything he's ever seen. He says do that, McCain wins.

I am suspicious about the bringing of this bill to the floor at the time it was brought. Pelosi has to be blamed in a large measure for this because she did not even have members of her own party whipped on this bill (as Pete DeFazio admitted yesterday). Leaving partisan motives out of it, on its face, Pelosi (and the majority leader) failed to do their job.

Dan, keep swingin' away! I do reject your characterization of those Republicans who supported the bailout as running cover for Pelosi and engaging in political idiocy--that's too strong, but otherwise, you're on a roll. Excellent point about the approach of Bush and McCain toward the Dems, out of a misguided instinct to avoid polarization.

I for one would welcome this becoming a Democratic bill tomorrow or later in the week, signed by Bush, with the out-front urging of Obama. I think that turn of events would guarantee the defeat of the McCain-Palin ticket. I fault Obama for his caution.

Take a look at the other markets, Bombay, Hong Kong, London. Is anything going on in any of those other markets that would lead us to believe a global meltdown is nigh.

Weren't all of us most solemnly warned that the lack of an emergency bailout would trigger a global meltdown. Weren't we all warned, like the Doom of Mandos from Tolkien's Silmarillion, that if we failed to IMMEDIATELY proffer vast and unlimited power and funding to Paulson, that the whole world would enter a financial meltdown.

Well where's the meltdown?

Paulson said this had to be done over two weeks ago.

TWO WEEKS AGO.

TWO FULL WEEKS AGO we were on the cusp of a plunge into a new economic dark age.

Well where's the dark age?

Where's the plunge?

The market gained back almost half of what it yielded yesterday. Shouldn't that inform our deliberations on this matter.

Meanwhile, Conservative noteworthies are still blasting Republicans on The Hill for not getting with the whole bipartisan show.

This whole thing reads like a storyline from that fictional hoot of a novel, A CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES.

And STEVE, sure you'd welcome this bill. It's not likely that 60 Minutes is ever going to have on Jamie Gorelick, explaining how she made almost a 100 million dollars from a quasi-public institution by cooking the books, and rigging the compensation process. If you noticed, cameras aren't parked outside Raines' front door, nor that of Mudd or Johnson. Were they Republicans in an election year, -------- wouldn't that have been the case.

But if this whole bailout plan blows up, as it most likely will, besides the dread consequences for the country, Republicans will face news stories fingering us for the whole damn drama. That's part of what's it like being a Republican. Something Democrats never give a thought to. So yea, a Dem can jump for joy about this idiotic plan, and give nary a thought to the political consequences.

So Dan, if McCain goes with Dick Morris' opinion, how does that affect the Presidential Election in 5 weeks between H. Clinton and Condi R.??? I mean I am just getting started on his great book of 2007 which postulated that only Condi can beat that monster, Hillary...

Whatever Dick says, do the opposite, for each of his tactics plays Americans as stooges who can't see through candidate b.s.

Does today's stock exchange rally tell us anything relevant at all, except that there were bargains available after yesterday?

Dan, I am not jumping for joy. I'm not happy with my choices. But I do expect this is hurting Republicans more than Democrats, and I do not think that fact can be laid at the door step of the MSM.

Like Peter, my thinking has evolved in the same direction in 24 hours. Rather than repeat what he and others have said, I will only quote one paragraph from a longer email I sent some friends, because I think this needs some attention:

"Here is the real kicker for me. The unbelievably overwhelming popular opposition to this OUGHT to matter to these politicians. It ought to be a sign they regard as obliging them to explain themselves, instead of tut-tutting at the great unwashed. Sometimes the public is dead wrong. It may be on this. But the contempt for it implicit in what the political class is saying is breathtaking, especially given that none of them is able actually to make a case that this plan will do what it is said it will do. What is so ironic is that the Framers regarded our cumbersome machinery of government as a check on hot-tempered populist pressures to act fast. Here we have the public ready to ride things out in order to act more deliberately while that cumbersome machinery suddenly skyrockets off the deep end."

Again, I think Sowell is basically right, we need to phase out the GSEs, but that means a big political fights with both the Lib Dems and the Black Caucus.. and charges of racism and heartlessness. But what the GOP needs is to make the fight the nasty fight it ought to be, showing the Dems and BO to be the race baiting fleecers of the Taxpayer they truly are. What the GOP needs to do is make a congressional compact of all their congressional candidates, a campaign pledge to do 5 thing their first 100 days, ending the con game of fannie mae and fannie mac should be one of them.

Some thoughts,

1. Conservatives ought to stop acting as if the current financial crisis is caused PRIMARILY by the government pushing banks to make loans to poor people. Its a small part of the problem, but a much bigger part was a whole host of policies that encouraged alot of Americans to buy more expensive homes than they could afford. It also come across as racist - whether people mean it to or not.

2. I have no way of knowing what the effect of the allegedy "frozen" credit markets are having on the economy and especially on unemployment, but that is probably more important than the emotion driven daily swings of the stock market. The damage if any will probably be felt in the next administration.

3. Every day that the financial crisis and the bailout dominates the headlines is a bad day for McCain. The bailout issue divides conservatives, confuses the public and complicates any stand against Big Government interventions in the economy.

4.Conservatives who emphasize a business tax cut are right on the narrow issue of how to maximize long term growth. I doubt a business tax cut will resolve the present finance crisis. A business tax cut also does not address the wage stagnation of large parts of the workforce that occured while the economy was growing. To the extent that conservatives stress a business tax cut, they are losing the argument.

ROGER, --------- I anticipated somebody bringing up Morris' notorious failures, ------------- but I didn't anticipate that question.

But give Morris half a chance, listen to his comments over at Dennis Prager's TOWNHALL website, and tune in for yesterday's program.

Listen to what he says, and ask yourself if it sounds reasonable to you.

The unbelievably overwhelming popular opposition to this OUGHT to matter to these politicians. It ought to be a sign they regard as obliging them to explain themselves, instead of tut-tutting at the great unwashed. Sometimes the public is dead wrong. It may be on this. But the contempt for it implicit in what the political class is saying is breathtaking, especially given that none of them is able actually to make a case that this plan will do what it is said it will do. These are very wise words, Jon Burack.

I for one would welcome this becoming a Democratic bill tomorrow or later in the week, signed by Bush, with the out-front urging of Obama.

We can call it the "Bush-Obama Bill".

Remind me - which candidate is Bush's third term?

Sometimes the public is dead wrong. It may be on this. But the contempt for it implicit in what the political class is saying is breathtaking, especially given that none of them is able actually to make a case that this plan will do what it is said it will do.

The mechanism by which this bill is being rammed through is disconcerting, to say the least. Even the amnesty nonsense had more debate. This was dumped in the lap of Congress last week with orders to pass it instantly. The process is not supposed to work like this. I don't want Congress to be a rubber stamp for whatever Paulson wants.

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