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Joseph A. Palermo Headshot

Defeating the Bailout Looks Like Another Republican Ploy

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The Hill reported today: "Unlike the three-hour vote on the 2003 Medicare drug bill, House Republican leaders did not put much pressure on their rank-and-file members to back the rescue package." John Boehner, Roy Blunt and other "leaders" of the House Republicans thought they could strike a public pose as if they really cared about the credit seizure that looms over the country while secretly hoping to pin the bill's passage on Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, (and by association, Barack Obama). Republican House members would then be free to return to their home districts and run against the "Democrat" bailout. They wanted Speaker Pelosi to pass the bill without much Republican cover so they could tell their constituents that the Democrats were just "picking the taxpayers' pockets again." In 2003, when the House Republicans were in the majority and wanted to pass a sweetheart deal for their corporate benefactors in the pharmaceutical industry they had no problem "whipping" up enough votes. Just ask Billy Tauzin and Tom DeLay. But when the economy is teetering on the verge of a severe credit crisis they refuse to put in the extra effort. They wanted the bailout to pass without many Republican votes so they could blame the majority and milk it in the remaining weeks until the election.

The No Child Left Behind and the Patriot Acts were "bi-partisan"; the Medicare prescription drug bill that forbids the federal government from volume buying pharmaceuticals was "bi-partisan"; the Authorization to Use Force in Iraq was "bi-partisan." The deregulatory fervor that included the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act in 1999, which knocked out a pillar of the New Deal regulatory banking reforms, was also "bi-partisan."

And now we're being told that the $700 billion Wall Street bailout bill is a really great thing, in part, because it is "bi-partisan."

Whenever you hear the word "bi-partisan," even during the waning hours of the Bush years, it usually means something very bad is about to happen.

In principle, I do not support this bailout bill. I agree with the critical flaws in the bill that Dennis Kucinich articulated this morning on Amy Goodman's show, Democracy Now! I don't believe in a government welfare program for Wall Street swindlers who had the audacity to pump up the paper value of one of their hidden, unregulated derivatives, "credit default swaps," from $631 billion in 2001 to $62 trillion in 2008! I think some people should be indicted; some people should go to jail.

These crooks have the economy in a vise so we must give them what they want because if we don't it's going to bring "this sucker down" (to paraphrase President George W. Bush). If the government does not ease jittery stock markets by pumping fresh cash into the system and taking on Wall Street's toxic derivative sludge the ensuing credit seizure could slam the economy into a years-long depression. It would then take billions and billions of dollars to try to prime the pump. The bailout bill was a desperate attempt to keep a recession from becoming a depression.

The gap between the super rich and everybody else has grown for decades, and the ruling elites are geniuses at passing the costs of their reckless speculation onto the backs of working people. All of a sudden I hear Bush Administration mouthpieces such as the billionaire Henry Paulson, who in the past have told us that we are all on our own and we shouldn't rely on government for anything, speak about "our" financial markets as if working people have been the ones swapping "collateralized debt obligations" and "hybrid debt instruments." We now hear from the dead duck Bush regime: "All for One and One for All!" The whole damn mess would be nothing but a bad joke if the situation were not so dire. There is going to be real suffering soon among our society's most vulnerable people. Whatever Congress decides to do or not do the economy is already tanking and hurting working people across the country. I would rather see the leaders of this nation stabilize the markets at least until the Obama Administration can take over and begin the long arduous process of cleaning up after the worst president in American history. It is my hope we can seize the opportunity this crisis presents, hold President Obama's feet to the fire, and construct a new social compact in this country, a New New Deal.