Well, halfway, at least. The Senate passed the bill
, with 2/5 of the DeFazio plan embedded - the raising of FDIC insurance limits, which was long overdue, and the ability for the SEC to suspend mark-to-market accounting, which is some kind of fairy tale. It also includes all kinds of other legislation
, like a tax package which is mainly focused on renewable energy tax credits, the only - I repeat, only - provision through all of this which could grow the manufacturing sector and reindustrialize the country (which is, you know, the key to America's economic survival). It actually RAISES taxes for oil companies as well. I don't think "Exempt from excise tax certain wooden arrow shafts for use by children" needed to be in there, but hey, it's Congress!
The Senate jammed the House pretty good on this one, and I think they'll eventually comply.
My Senators, Boxer and Feinstein, both voted for it, which shows that this cuts across ideological lines. And yet I can't argue with a word Russ Feingold says here:
"I will oppose the Wall Street bailout plan because though well intentioned, and certainly much improved over the administration's original proposal, it remains deeply flawed. It fails to offset the cost of the plan, leaving taxpayers to bear the burden of serious lapses of judgment by private financial institutions, their regulators, and the enablers in Washington who paved the way for this catastrophe by removing the safeguards that had protected consumers and the economy since the great depression. The bailout legislation also fails to reform the flawed regulatory structure that permitted this crisis to arise in the first place. And it doesn't do enough to address the root cause of the credit market collapse, namely the housing crisis. Taxpayers deserve a plan that puts their concerns ahead of those who got us into this mess."
This is all true, and this was ultimately a bad plan, but I respect the opinion of hold your nose caucus
as well. I would have preferred a short-term fix with a vote giving a popular mandate to the solution.
Because right now the public opinion situation is very muddled. People absolutely believe this is a crisis and they might not want to bail out Wall Street but they are adamant that something be done. This is acute in California. The state, with its emphasis on selling bonds and borrowing, is currently unable to pay its bills
. Bonds for highway construction, schools, housing and water projects cannot be sold. The credit crunch has real-world effects. This is why the Governor wrote the Congressional delegation and urged passage
. This is also why you don't run a government based on borrowing, but there you go.
And so you have the fascinating and strange situation where Democratic challengers in Congressional races are hammering their incumbent opponents for voting yes AND voting no on the House plan. On the side of "how could you vote for this" are Bill Durston
(who rushed out an ad hitting Dan Lungren
for voting yes) and Ed Chau (who slammed Gary Miller in a press release). On the side of "I can't believe you didn't vote for this" are Nick Leibham
, who couldn't have been more exercised about Brian Bilbray's no vote (calling it "totally irresponsible") and Charlie Brown
, who defended the need to do something against nutjob free market fundamentalist Tom McClintock.
And then you have Russ Warner
, who cited David Dreier's hypocrisy while saying he would have voted for the bill as well
Warner's campaign pointed to a conflicting statement on Dreier's website, where the 13-term incumbent writes, "I believe we need to empower families to make sound economic choices and avoid taxpayer funded bailouts."
While Warner says he would have voted for the bailout bill as well, his campaign attacked Dreier for changing his position.
The point is that no politician has any idea what the people want, and the decision-making process is exceedingly complex. Those who are taking principled stands are likely to be rewarded and those taking political ones punished, but even that is unclear. I would steer clear of making definitive statements about the public mood; chances are they don't even know what they think.
...it is also completely amusing that the bill bailing out Wall Street is called the Paul Wellstone Mental Health Parity Act
. Because tax bills can't originate in the Senate, they grafted the legislation onto a bill that the House recently sent over. Which, by the way, is a good bill.
Labels: bailouts, budget, California, Congress, credit markets, financial industry, Russ Feingold