The government has made some stunning admissions over the last couple of days. First, the Bush administration admitted that they brought the world to the brink of global economic collapse. They said they desperately needed the help of Congress to authorize a $700 billion bailout. Otherwise their governance would lead to a complete financial disaster. Is anyone going to be held accountable for that?
Before they get any of the money, I would like George Bush to come out and say, "I'm sorry. Our governing philosophy was wrong and it led to this debacle." That might seem petty to some in light of the weighty issues at hand. But actually it isn't; it's very important. If we want to avoid this type of colossal blunder again, we need to know why it happened. If Bush (the government) is going to get the money, I need to know that he (they) understands what he (they) did wrong.
Secondly, the response to this situation has been as horrible as the Hurricane Katrina response. It's just that it's about finance, so not as many people easily understand it. Think about it. Bear Stearns melted down months ago. They saw this hurricane coming from a mile away -- and now they introduce a panicked, three-page bill to give the Treasury Secretary almost complete power over $700 billion.
They didn't have time craft better legislation than that? Of course, they did. Either they wanted this kind of unchecked authority and pretended there was a sudden panic or there was a slow-motion Hurricane Katrina like response as they dawdled along with no plan until it got to be too late. I honestly think it's the latter. I'm now convinced they're not bright or competent enough to be that devious.
Let me re-emphasize that point. The $700 billion bailout is wrapped up in a three page bill! That is astounding. That means there are almost no checks on it and is incredibly vague. Any chance that some finance companies take advantage of that vagueness to unload all of their bad loans and contracts on us? Any chance that vagueness leads to lobbyists getting all that they want out of this while the American taxpayer gets screwed?
But we are told we must not question this bailout, because terrible danger lurks above us. It is imminent, we must act now. In fact, Bush said, "The risk of not acting would be far higher." I feel like I remember that from somewhere? Oh yeah, it sounds a lot like Iraq.
Who in their right mind would believe the Bush administration with no qualifications? Who takes their word for it? They tell us that they have secret evidence of an imminent global economic collapse. Really? You'll excuse me if I'd like to see that evidence.
It's not that I don't appreciate the seriousness of the situation. I understand that many financial companies were in a lot of trouble and I understand how that can affect the whole economy. But remember they told us earlier that if one of these giant financial companies went bankrupt, it would be the end of the world. Then Lehman went under and the world didn't end.
The stock market went down but it didn't come anywhere close to collapsing. Remember Nasdaq lost 75% of its value in the beginning of this decade, and we still survived. What I am not convinced about is that there is evidence of a worldwide financial collapse. And until about a week ago, apparently the Bush administration was not convinced of that, either. Until someone said the magic word - Goldman. The minute Goldman Sachs was put on the board of possible companies who might go down next, panic set in.
Now, let me do something that is forbidden in polite Washington circles - question the motives of Henry Paulson. For those of you who don't know, Hank Paulson was the CEO of Goldman Sachs before he became the Treasury Secretary.
Notice that this catch-all financial bailout was put together the minute Goldman Sachs was put on the list of companies that are in trouble. I don't know if Paulson has all of his money out of Goldman. Is he really all liquid? None of it is tied up in some way with the company he used to lead? I'm asking because this could be highly relevant. Any reporter worth their salt should be asking this question, though none have as far as I can see.
Even if Paulson is completely out of Goldman financially, how many friends does he have working there? How much is he personally invested in the success of his old company? How much did that motivate him to create a giant bailout plan right before the mess got to Goldman, and not a day earlier? If Goldman was in the position Lehman was, would he really have let it go under?
Finally, it must be pointed out that this is a giant amnesty program for Wall Street. We wash away all of their mistakes. So, the next time the Republicans come after illegal immigrants, the lowest in the worker totem pole, we should remember what they did for the highest in the worker totem pole. The richest and most privileged people in America are about to get a general amnesty for all of their wrongdoings. Will the poorest and least privileged?
Unfortunately, we all know the answer to that question. So, don't ever let them scapegoat the poorest workers in America again after they just gave amnesty to the richest.
Follow Cenk Uygur on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CenkUygur