The precise cure to what ails America’s financial health is beyond my ability to prescribe. However, I’m not troubled that the House defeated the proposed bailout bill–and my reason for thinking so should resonate with many Democrats.
Let me first put the recently defeated bill into perspective. How big is $700 billion? This source reports that to date America has spent $583 billion to fight the war in Iraq. That’s right, we taxpayers are being asked to add an immediate expense to the federal budget that is more than $100 billion greater than has already been spent on more than five years of war. This bill is unprecedented in size.
So why is a bailout bill–and particularly, this bailout bill–absolutely essential now? When it gets right down to it, the answer to this question should alarm Democrats (and even many Republicans): Because the Bush administration warns that absolute global catastrophe will follow if we do nothing.
Two weeks ago I suspect that fewer than one percent of Americans could have even named the Secretary of the Treasury whose dire predictions now demand immediate action, and we’re to trust him that this particular bill will solve our future financial problems? Sure, dozens of other knowledgeable financial experts have echoed Secretary Paulson’s concerns. But again, how many supposed experts six years ago produced reams and reams of data and analyses that the failure to confront Saddam Hussein right then and there would lead to catastrophe? At least that debate took place over a period of months– it was 18 months from the fall of the Twin Towers to the attack into Iraq–and yet we’re supposed to take the Administration at face value with less than two weeks to evaluate its claims? In terms of dollars per days of debate, this bailout bill is undoubtedly the most expensive endeavor ever attempted in the history of the United States.
This debate is about an enormously large bill with unknown and far reaching consequences. No one in the Administration or Congress has yet explained how it will protect Americans from a financial cataclysm that itself, isn’t even very well defined. Call me a skeptic, but while I’m willing to believe that a very bad economy is just around the corner, I’m not at all convinced that this bill fixes it without the “cure” creating even more short and long-term problems of its own.
While I’m willing to be convinced, I simply don’t trust this Administration on matters of domestic spending and oversight or this Congress on pretty much any matter at all. In that regard, I’m having trouble understanding how my friends in the other party aren’t similarly skeptical.
(To be fair, 40% of them apparently were apparently skeptical of the bill. Although you wouldn’t know that from the House Democratic leadership, even as some of her closest friends and allies deserted her on this vote. ht: GR)