Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

About that bailout....

Gee, what a surprise:
Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. announced a major shift in the thrust of the $700 billion financial-rescue program on Wednesday, at the same time joining several agencies in prodding banks to speed up the thaw in the country’s credit system.

Mr. Paulson said the $700 billion would not be used to buy up troubled mortgage-related securities, as the rescue effort was originally conceived, but would instead be used in a broader campaign to bolster the financial markets and, in turn, make loans more accessible for creditworthy borrowers seeking car loans, student loans and other kinds of borrowing.
This is one of the reasons why we were against the Paulson/Bush bailout plan. The $700 billion was so loosely appropriated that it amounted to a massive blank check. We pointed that out at the time Congress was considering the legislation.

Paulson seems to think he can do whatever he wants with the money - use his own discretion to decide where the funds should go.

Isn't that Congress' job? Oh, yeah:
Article I. Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 8. The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
Furthermore, bills concerning revenue must originate in the House of Representatives. That's from Section 7.

The Constitution makes it plainly clear what Congress' powers are. But right now, Henry Paulson is playing Appropriations Chair.

He is a one man Congress.

Only he's in the executive branch. He's the Treasury Secretary. He's not supposed to make law or decide what the budget's going to be.

Those are the powers of the legislative branch.

Unfortunately, congressional Democrats have abdicated their Constitutional responsibilities. Where is the oversight? There just doesn't seem to be any.

The House and the Senate have passed the buck.

And look what's happening. This New York Times headline says it all:
Lobbyists Swarm the Treasury for Piece of Bailout Pie
It's like an All You Can Eat Buffet...while the food lasts:
When the government said it would spend $700 billion to rescue the nation’s financial industry, it seemed to be an ocean of money. But after one of the biggest lobbying free-for-alls in memory, it suddenly looks like a dwindling pool.

Many new supplicants are lining up for an infusion of capital as billions of dollars are channeled to other beneficiaries like the American International Group, and possibly soon American Express.

Of the initial $350 billion that Congress freed up, out of the $700 billion in bailout money contained in the law that passed last month, the Treasury Department has committed all but $60 billion. The shrinking pie — and the growing uncertainty over who qualifies — has thrown Washington’s legal and lobbying establishment into a mad scramble.
It shouldn't come as a shock that everybody is lining up to get a piece of that bailout. After all, what bank, insurer, or financial services company wouldn't want a nice pile of money from the government?

All these executives on Wall Street and industry trade chiefs in D.C. are thinking, "Free" markets, who needs 'em? Let's take the money and run!

Since Henry Paulson is the new Congress, lobbyists for all kinds of businesses are focusing their attention on 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, the headquarters of the Department of Treasury (forget Capitol Hill - that's so twentieth century):
Then there is the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which is asking whether boat financing companies might be eligible for aid to ensure that dealers have access to credit to stock their showrooms with boats — costs have gone up as the credit markets have calcified. Using much the same rationale, the National Automobile Dealers Association is pleading that car dealers get consideration, too.
Gimme, gimme, gimme! It's a tune that industry lobbyists from the Pacific to the Atlantic seem to be singing these days.

Jeb Mason, the Treasury's business liaison and a Karl Rove protege, commented to the New York Times on the deluge of requests, remarking: "I was telling a friend, 'this must have been how the Politburo felt'".

There's a new one. A Bushie comparing Dubya's administration to the Politburo?

Never thought I'd see the day.

Then again, I never thought we'd see a Democratic Congress hand over hundreds of billions of dollars to Dubya with (almost) no strings attached.

We at NPI hoped and expected after the 2006 midterms that a Democratic Congress would force the administration to be accountable. Wield some oversight.

Silly us. Why didn't we just get with the program? It's so much more efficient for us to have a one-man Congress who can just decide things.

You know, be a Decider.

As George Bush himself said:
If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier - just so long as I'm the dictator.

- December 18th, 2000
Well, at least we've got a Democratic president coming in. We know the Republicans are going to turn on a dime and start monitoring the executive branch like hawks, scrutinizing everything Barack Obama does.

Although we're suspect of their good intentions, we think that's healthy.

We just wish the current Democratic Congress had fulfilled its promise of being an effective, loyal opposition to the administration of George W. Bush.


Blogger Jason said...

Hank read, "If you give a mouse a cookie"

It's a children's book and it might help!

November 12, 2008 5:17 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home