We are in a box. The United States' current economic crisis has four corners, just like any regular box.
1) "Regular" Democrats and "Regular" Republicans are leading the reform effort targeting Bush's original 3-page bailout plan. They see the effort as representing their Main Street constituents' interests at the same time as Wall Street's. Barack Obama is trying not to get in the way of this process. We do not exactly know where Blue Dog Democrats would come down.
2) "Conservative" Republicans are in direct opposition to the Regulars' proposals and are not negotiating, but offering wholesale substitution of different ideas. Rebellious and bewildered,# these legislators feel that the proposed bailout is socialism. John McCain# may or may not be on their side. He cannot or will not say where he stands, but his presence is certainly having an effect.
3) "Regular Americans" -- we citizens are angry, dazed, confused and skeptical of Congress' and the Administration's proposals, due to Bush's history of raising last minute crises and deliberate escalation of fears based on lies and deception. We need a whole lot more information. Some of us want the culprits punished. Bush takes no responsibility# for the failures.
4) "The Experts" in economics, constitutional law and political theory disagree on the solutions needed to mitigate the banking frozen credit crisis; wise leaders do not necessarily trust the Secretary of the Treasury, due to his previous corporate history.
The regulars have their hands full today. Last night the House Republicans Scuttle[d] Economic Rescue Talks. And what about tonight's debate? Friday's Debate: Commander-in-Chief Test for McCain & Obama# -- Senator McCain has said he will attend tonight's Presidential Debate at "Ole Miss." Tonight's discussion was planned to be about foreign policy.# The moderator will inevitably have to pose questions about the economic crisis. At the very least, McCain's tactics for the past few days have convinced me that, by his behavior alone, he is not ever going to be the one we can trust to be in charge.
The people of the United States, regular Americans are not just sitting around in a stupor. They are protesting. In the streets and Online, Bailout Outrage Jumps to Streets, and Into Lawmakers' Inboxes." The post is at Wired-Threat Level. It says, "An e-mail that began as a rallying cry from a lone journalist to an influential circle of friends to protest the U.S. government bailout of Wall Street has ignited a national day of street protests." Also, this from Democrats.com reminded us all about some key ideas regarding the proposed wall Street bailout. To quote:
$700 billion of our tax dollars - $2,333 for every man, woman, and child - to bail out his greedy rich friends on Wall Street. . . So make no mistake: every penny we give Bush now will be used to greatly overpay for securities that will lose most of their value. We will pay the price for decades, which is why dozens of economists oppose Bush's fraud. . . . And call your Senators and Representative right now to say "No $700 Billion Bailout for Wall Street" - dial the Capitol switchboard at 800-473-6711 or 202-224-3121 or dial direct using the instant phone lookup on the right side of http://usalone.com/ And if you have not e-mailed your Senators and Representative, please do it now: http://www.democrats.com/stop-
And we need not fear, the FBI Is on the Case, OK?" -- from ProPublica (9/24/08) is by Paul Kiel. Kiel's main point is that the FBI is under pressure to assist with settling corporate accountability for fraud, though there does not seem to be a good indication that a crime has been committed. The FBI reported that the number of investigations has gone from 18 to 26 since July. The recently begun investigation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers and the American International Group is preliminary. To quote:
. . . The FBI is probing four of the stricken companies at the center of the current financial crisis, reports the AP, Washington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg. All outlets cite anonymous law enforcement sources who, naturally, are not named because they “aren’t authorized” to speak publicly. . . Most news sources mention “possible” or “potential” fraud. Only Bloomberg approaches specifics, reporting that investigators are reviewing “possible accounting misstatements.”
. . . A “government official” speaking to the New York Times provides the most candid explanation of the FBI’s interest, telling the Times that it was “logical to assume” that those four companies would come under investigation because of the many questions surrounding their recent collapse
. . . But as the Wall Street Journal notes, investigators have yet to bag a dealmaker who symbolizes the current crisis the way Charles Keating, convicted for fraud related to the collapse of American Financial Corp., came to be the face of the S&L crisis. (Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo has at times seemed a likely candidate.) Until investigators land a big fish, the pressure is likely to continue.
Experts, thank goodness, are squaring off in ways that surely will help America do the right thing. They also help the rest of us understand. For that I turn to one of my most trustworthy gurus. On Tuesday and Wednesday, Salon.com's Glenn Greenwald interviewed a couple of people who know a lot about the economic crisis. Glenn and "Digby" had a very informative discussion about the bailout on Wednesday. Glenn explained, "My discussion with Digby is about the reasons why all of this is happening, the political considerations driving it, and whether there is any prospect for stopping it." And Glenn interviewed Notre Dame finance professor Richard Sheehan on Tuesday. To quote,
University of Notre Dame Professor of Finance Richard Sheehan has been one of the most incisive economist-critics of the Paulson plan since it was unveiled, and he's my guest today on Salon Radio. We discuss the ways in which the key fear-mongering claims of Paulson have been both misleading and exaggerated; the reasons the bailout plan won't work even if the best case scenario occurs; where and how the Federal Government will get $700 billion to fund it; and the role Paulson himself has played in the events that have caused this crisis.
Congressional Democrats are surely worried about their own campaigns as this crisis drags on. At the same time, these are exciting and terrifying times. Today the cost of the Iraq war mounts to $557,371,700,000+, our current president has 115 more days in the White House, and 39 days remain until the elections. Dems are not all guaranteed a win this fall and some of the most courageous will need our help. Meanwhile, Peace to all.
References regarding the crisis and the election --
- From ProPublica (9/24/08): Breaking on the Web: Wall Street Crisis Edition.
- History of U.S. Gov’t Bailouts, Updated" -- This further background comes from ProPublica - by Jesse Nankin, posted: 22 Sep 2008.
- Fom CQ Behind the Lines newsletter (9/24/08):
McBama: While John McCain and other Republican leaders support the terror-inspired Real ID Act, Sarah Palin has said she has “great concerns” about the “ill-conceived policy,” The Juneau Empire’s Alan Suderman spotlights. “The evidence that Obama is tacking a bit toward a more powerful presidency comes from his reversal on warrantless wiretapping,” Slate’s Emily Bazelon observes in a look at the future of the Bush team’s terror-era executive power grab. Ex-White House terror expert Richard Clarke was in Virginia last weekend arguing that Obama has been right on recent key national security issues — issues in which McCain ostensibly showed a lack of judgment, The Rocktown Weekly’s Jeremy Hunt reports. “At Friday’s debate, McCain should make a pivot, connecting foreign policy, national security, and domestic policy — and thus get back to illegal immigration,” James Pinkerton proposes on The FOX Forum. A man was arrested Tuesday near the Chicago home of Barack Obama for allegedly “getting too close” to the security perimeter, ABC 7 News notes.
Hat Tip Key: Regular contributors of links to leads are "betmo"* and Jon#.
(Cross-posted at South by Southwest.)