I don’t think anyone knows what to think about this economic bailout.
The presidential candidates aren’t sure of what to make of the failure of the bailout to pass. Of course, the candidate’s position on the bailout package can be summed up pretty nicely:
Barack Obama: “I will take a tentative position on the bill until the House votes it down, so they can get all the heat for its defeat. I’ll then have an internal poll taken to see whether I want to be for it or against it regardless of its content. Once it’s voted down, I can then come out against it with little repercussion.”
John McCain: “I have no idea what is in this bill because I pretty much know jack about the economy. I would defer to my vice presidential candidate, since she is set up to complement me on my weaknesses, but it turns out she doesn’t know jack about the economy either. Even though this is the case, we still know more about the economy than Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers, and the Treasury Department combined.”
Of course, even though the House of Representatives voted on it, which necessitates them specifically stating “Yes” or “No,” they don’t know what to think about it, either. Almost immediately as the last ballot hit the bottom of the box (or I assume as such; I have no practical way of knowing how votes are actually, physically tabulated on the House floor. It’s probably some pussy method like swiping an ID card, but I like to imagine they have to text their vote to number 67773 (standard text messaging rates apply) or at the very least auction off a part of their soul every time they cast a vote), representatives took to the airwaves doubting their vote cast. Some seem genuinely confused, given that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson gave lawmakers approximately fifteen minutes between the time they received the plan and had to vote on it, forcing legislators to use the “find” function on Adobe Acrobat to look for—depending on their political philosophy and geographical location—“tax cuts for the same people who got us in this mess in the first place,” “education grants that have somehow been tangentially related to the financial crisis,” “energy investment credits, otherwise known and handing out burlap sacks of cash to the oil companies so folks from Texas and Alaska might actually sallow this piece of tripe law,” “contractual obligation to saw off California so it drifts out into the sea,” or “Britney Spears Sex Tape” (the latter, one presumes, is simply out of habit).
The American population isn’t sure what to think about it, either. It’s one of the finest balancing acts in modern politics. People hate bailing out with massive amounts of taxpayer cash the obviously boneheaded mistakes made by rich Wall Street tycoons who, when it’s all said and done, will still be driving their Porsches around Rodeo Drive while eating foie gras and drinking Château Latour and buying tickets to the Eagles concert afterwards. On the other hand, not bailing them out will spell if not total disaster a pretty unfortunate downturn in the economy causing many consumers to stand in bread lines reading the want ads while talking on one of their three cell phones.
And, it turns out, Wall Street doesn’t know what to think about it, either. The stock market has been incredibly volatile, which is saying something in a year of an increasingly large number of ups and downs. Investors can’t quite decide if they want to jump off of buildings, throwing worthless stock certificates of AIG like confetti as they fall, or whether they want to crouch behind their office chair, salivating while holding a fork in one hand and a knife in the other, waiting for the right time to jump and carve out a huge chunk of the mortgage business at dirt cheap prices during the Great Huge Federal Government Fire Sale Of Assets From Incredibly Greedy And Stupid Companies Whose Board Of Directors Are Still Somehow Going To Make As Assload Of Money.
And—heavens to Betsy—I don’t know what to make of it, either. My rather theoretical libertarian heart wants so badly for the government to shrug their shoulders and extend a middle finger of sympathy to these failed companies who failed because they failed to realize that they were greedy and stupid. And I want people who bought houses worth about three times outside of their pay scale to suddenly realize that it isn’t just cocaine, Amway, that Ron Paul contribution you made one night you were drunk, and a nasty Starbucks habit that can lead to financial distress; sometimes overextending yourself does, too, and you shouldn’t expect the government to bail you out. On the other hand, it was government interference that sort of precipitated this in the first place, with both unrealistic tax credit encouragement and regulations effectively forcing bad loans to be guaranteed. And while I think it’s bad policy, stabilizing the economy while letting the government make a dime off the deal maybe isn’t the worst thing in the world. The blame is easy to spread around because everyone is to blame. About 13 people out of 433 are still trying to figure out the most politically expedient way to assign it for the record.