Sunday, October 05, 2008

Republicans on Bailout: WAAAAAAAAAAH!

Latest Newspaper Column

Shortly after the House voted down a revised version of President Bush and Treasury Secretary Paulson's $700-billion bailout of the financial industry, House minority Leader John Boehner went on TV and showed himself to be a true statesman.

"You know," he told the American people, "the bill didn't fly with some of our own people because it didn't take into account their free-market principles and the concerns of their constituents. And, truth be told, it was a bad bill, conceived and sold to us in an atmosphere of panic. We'll have to get back to work on something that everyone can live with."

Ha ha ha! Just kidding. Boehner actually blamed the failure of 100 Republicans to vote for their own president's bill on the fact that Nancy Pelosi hurt their delicate little feelings.

"We could have gotten there today," Boehner groused, "had it not been for this partisan speech by the speaker on the floor of the House." Pelosi's speech, Boehner said, "poisoned" efforts to get Republicans to back the bill.

Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank was quick to recognize the absurdity: "If people's feelings were hurt because of a speech," he said, "and that led them to vote differently than what they thought the national interest requires, then they really don't belong here. They're not tough enough."

Dudes. You just got called "not tough enough" for Congress by a gay guy. That's got to sting.

The facts are these: The Democrats delivered what they promised, namely the vote of 60 percent of their caucus. The speaker even held the vote open to give more time for arm-twisting. In the end, though, fewer than 30 percent of Republicans voted for their own president's bill, according to McClatchy Newspapers syndicate.

I kept waiting for Boehner to say something later to retract or amend his remarks. Because what he was saying, in a nutshell, was that his Republican caucus is a pack of spoiled children who'll buck him and their supposed party leader any time someone they purport to despise says something they don't like.

But nooooooo. Turns out that "Democrats are at fault because you weren't nice enough to us" is apparently the new party line, to the extent that the Republicans could cobble together a party line.

Honorable John McCain, who "suspended his campaign" to rush back with his hair on fire and supposedly save the day, asserted that now wasn't the time to start assigning blame for the bill's failure. Within the hour, however, the McCain campaign released a statement doing just that, assigning blame to Barack Obama, even though Obama's not even a member of the House. (Man, that Obama fellow's in control of everything!)

But I guess that this sort of flip-floppery shouldn't surprise anyone, coming as it does from the same fellow who said one day he didn't support the bailout of AIG and the next day said he was for it. Frankly the only thing consistent about Honorable John's campaign these days is its inconsistency.

McCain also utilized another well-worn campaign tactic for him, a tactic known as "lying through his teeth." He accused Obama, for example, of failing to support the bailout plan. It is true that Obama did refer to the plan as an "outrage"; however, he went on to say: "But we have no choice. We must act now. Because now that we're in this situation, your jobs, your life savings and the stability of our entire economy are at risk."

Frankly, I think that kind of grudging acceptance is about as close as any Americans are right now to supporting the bailout, and most of us aren't even that close.

Both Republicans and Democrats have failed to convince the public (including me) that using $700 billion to buy the bad debts of Wall Street millionaires who made stupid financial moves is going to benefit anyone but said millionaires.

And the people lit up the Congressional switchboards letting their elected representatives, some of whom are up for re-election, know how they felt. That's why the bailout failed the first time, however Boehner and McCain try to spin it.

People simply aren't ready to believe dire predictions of economic disaster from the administration that sold us the fairy tale about Iraqi WMDs. Nor are they ready to believe the same Democratic leadership that went along with the story and voted George W. Bush a blank check for an unnecessary war. It's like Bush himself says: "Fool me once, shame on -- shame on you. Fool me -- you can't get fooled again."

Maybe someone will be able to explain to me and to the rest of the country why this bailout is a good idea. But that someone won't be a guy who says his party votes based on who talks nice to them. And it won't be an erratic, flip-flopping grandstander like Honorable John McCain, a man who's proven only that he'll say anything to get elected.


Mark Terry said...

The American public got sidetracked by the stock market. The stockmarket is always jittery and always overreacts to everything. The bailout isn't about the stockmarket, it's about convincing banks to start lending money to each other again.

Anonymous said...

Uh, you're like a week late, dude. Boehner and the GOP pushed for more reforms, got them (and some tax cuts), and the bill passed on Friday with an extra 30 Republican votes. If you're going to retread a weak attack, at least make it timely.

John Dishon said...

Anonymous beat me to it, but this is old news. I think even you talked about it already.

The rest of the story is that the Senate loaded the bill up with pork and sent it back to the House where they passed it because they were afraid they wouldn't be able to pass it quick enough if they amended it and sent it back to the Senate.

I watched the House hearing on the bill which was the same day as the Biden/Palin debate live on

There was a guy there, can't remember his name, who wanted to put an order to open an amendment for debate for 10 minutes and a vote. The amendment would grant the treasury only a portion of the $700 billion at first to see how the program would work.

Barney Frank led the charge against that because he didn't think the Senate would get its act together and act quickly in passing the bill if it was sent back to them.

The first guy I mentioned pointed out that the treasury had begun hiring people to implement the bailout programs two weeks ago so it wouldn't matter if the bill was passed that day or the next week, since there wouldn't be an immediate action either way.

It appears they went with Barney Frank, however, because the House passed it that night and Bush signed it, meaning it never went back to the Senate.

So the total is about $800 billion, not $700 billion, and you can think the Senate for loading it up.

If you wanted to go after McCain again, you could have pointed out how he voted for a bill loaded up with earmarks. And knowing how balanced your criticisms are, you could also point out that Obama voted for the same bill.

L.J. Sellers said...

Whenever a politician says "Now is not the time to assign blame" or "We have to stop looking at the past," you can assume that his/her party is responsible for the mess.

Rae said...

I'm interested in whether or not the $702B (exclusive of all the pork) actually helps the credit market at all.

Thoughtful supporters of the bill are convinced it's a necessary measure to get money flowing through the economy again. As far as I can gather, thoughtful opponents believe the Wall Street dive is a necessary natural correction of a falsely inflated market.

The bummer is that we're spending a whole bunch of money that we can't really afford to find out who's right.

JD Rhoades said...

Anonymouse and John Dishon: The column deadline is Wednesday, so waht happened Friday doesn't get mentioned. And the column does sometimes talk about what I've mentioned before on the blog. Deal with it.

I know the current tactic of McCain shills like Anonymouse is to say "move along, turn the page, nothing to see here" and try to make people forget JMWWAPOW and Boehner's disgraceful performances this past week. In fact, Honorable John is resurrecting his tired old attacks over William Ayers to try to "turn the page" on the economy issue.
Sorry, not gonna let people forget, no matter how many people without the balls to identify themselves pull the "let's not bicker and argue about 'oo killed 'oo!" technique.

My skepticism over this bill stands, whoever voted for it.

John Dishon said...

Somehow I missed that first line. I thought this was just another blog post; I didn't realize it was actually published.

Your 100 Republicans is a bit mixed up, I think. Boehner needed 100 Republican votes, that's what he promised to get, but he only got 65. That leaves 35. And there was over a 100 (I want to say it was 133, but I can't remember) that voted against it.

And, of course, you're assuming that everyone who voted against it did so because of Pelosi's speech, and even Barney Frank in his press conference said he thought that wasn't plausible.

At the end you say it was angry emails and phone calls that led to the defeat of the bill, and I agree. But that contradicts your first point, that it was the Republicans because of hurt feelings. So which is it?

"Dudes. You just got called "not tough enough" for Congress by a gay guy. That's got to sting."

Hopefully your readers have a sense of humor; I didn't know you could say something like that in a newspaper, even if it is an editorial.

JD Rhoades said...

John, the point is that the Republicans dishonestly try to blame everything on the Democrats and "partisanship." And they do it with a straight face.

Hopefully your readers have a sense of humor;

The right ones do.