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September 30, 2008

It's Hank's Fault

Friedrich von Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards,

Well, the Mother of All Bailouts went down to defeat yesterday in the House, to the obvious consternation of bankers and stock markets everywhere. Many have assigned blame to Republican politicians who took a look at the strongly negative response to the bill from the public and, facing very dicey outcomes in next month's elections, decided to surf a populist wave.

While the Republicans are, indeed, in big trouble and like the desperate men and women they deserve to be (having blindly followed the lead of the most feckless president in history), they are probably feeling reckless. None the less, I think this explanation overlooks the real issue.

Bryan Caplan examines the three national polls taken on the subject by Rasmussen Reports, USA Today/Gallup, and Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times. He concludes that they all tell roughly the same tale:

The LA Times survey has the best-crafted responses - at least it mentions the main arguments for each side. But the USA Today poll, which gives an intermediate choice, probably tells us more about what the American public is thinking. Namely: They want government to do a lot, just not this. [emphasis added]

I believe that it would have been trivial to pass a variety of bailouts, certainly a Swedish-style bank nationalization bill and probably a number of others as well. The public doesn't want the benefits of a functioning financial system to go away; they however (IMO correctly) don't want the current people who have profited immensely by steering that system into the tarpits to be further rewarded or protected from the consequences of their own actions. Unlike many 'pragmatists' the public may actually think that this would not only be annoying in the here-and-now, but a very dangerous precedent for the future. Is that really so astonishing or short-sighted?

In other words, blame Hank Paulson for devising, and utterly refusing to part with, a bailout that is entirely painless for the bailees, or at least the bailees that Hank happens to like. He could have, with a little common sense, had a perfectly functional bailout bill passed by a unanimous vote already if that's all he wanted.



posted by Friedrich at September 30, 2008


this didnn't post too well on your blog yesterday night..

turn on html in your comments section pl?

Posted by: ramesh on September 30, 2008 10:15 AM

to rebut the libertarian right(the buchanan republicans)

I have read te reactions to the subversion of the bailout by house republicans, and my reaction is:

either they are sub intelligent or they thing everybody else is,

That , as political strategy works when your audience is the rural redneck who'se been sold the idea that America (and maybe the world)belongs to them.

When they try this with Wall street and serious money, it's likely that bad things will happen to them, quick...

Posted by: ramesh on September 30, 2008 11:07 AM

It's certainly a facile POV to call Bush feckless and reckless. He's had one of the most challenging presidencies probably since Truman. He's been under endless siege from Day 1, due to the rancor of that first election. The fourth estate has been dishonest and manipulative. Our government is being hijacked by corruption and partisanship, all of it, including this financial crisis, from the LEFT. Seriously, thank GOD for the internet and the indefatiguable bloggers, it's all out there if you care to seek the TRUTH. You disappoint me with this latest posting...

Posted by: Jess McMahon on September 30, 2008 11:17 AM

Friedrich, Bravo! Well said. Also, blame the Democrats for applying a few bandaids and making this ghastly thing theirs.

Posted by: Lester Hunt on September 30, 2008 1:38 PM

I haven't always agreed with your financial posts in the past but I must be coming around because I agree with this 100%. I'm even thinking I should vote for Obama, just to punish the Republicans.

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on September 30, 2008 2:04 PM

Todd, be careful what you wish for. The only reason to vote for Obama will be to punish the Democrats. Think about it.

Posted by: Charlton Griffin on September 30, 2008 3:17 PM

You mean it's a two-for-one deal? Even better...

Posted by: Todd Fletcher on September 30, 2008 6:55 PM


Posted by: Charlton Griffin on September 30, 2008 7:54 PM

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