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Update: Even if you skim the econospeak, the third e-mail here is useful.
Update II: David Kay Johnston thinks we're being railroaded.
Update III: Marcy Wheeler thinks we're being railroaded too.
First, before you read this, go read Billmon. Not only is he possibly the best political writer in America, he's covered and worked in high finance: "The price tag, we're now told (by the very same people who a year ago assured us the problem was limited to a few low-income deadbeats) is in the neighborhood of $700 billion, although I would suggest doubling that figure -- and then doubling it again -- if you want a more realistic estimate of what this fiasco ultimately will cost the taxpayers."
One thing about the bailout: I think John Cole--until recently a devout Republican--has a good point here. Henry Paulson came out and basically said "go get your man, bitch, he can get robbed too."* And because so much of the media has a creepy power fetish, this was immediately viewed as sensible, even though his "clean" bill wasn't and he hasn't heretofore shown the kind of deep understanding you'd expect from someone who wants $700 billion of your money. And who wants it right now. Like, don't get burned over being resistant right now. And people like David Brooks are excited to hand over their money to Emperor Daddy Warbucks. You should, in fact, be concerned, especially since all this is being negotiated in an atmosphere of complete chaos.
Congressional Democrats, led by Chris Dodd and Barney Frank, responded with what looks like what would be a marginally tolerable compromise--in the end.
Which means that unless Democrats--along with whatever Republicans sign on--get exactly what they want versus the sensible Treasury chair, the plan's going to suck. Then that suck is going to be used to pound them into submission. Paul Krugman thinks Paulson might have come across so hard that he lost all his leverage, but that was before his colleague David Brooks turned in his column. I'm skeptical.
It's nice when people try to make things simple and reasonable but it's not always the way to get something simple and reasonable done.
*"Tell 'em Biggie took it, what the fuck you gonna do."**
**Can't help but note in re "Gimme the Loot": This song is censored in a profoundly strange way. You are of course familiar with "clean" edits, in which bad words are scratched out. In "Gimme the Loot," bad concepts are scratched out. For instance, in the line "I don't give a fuck if she's pregnant / Gimme the baby rings, and the '#1 Ma' pendant," fuck remains but pregnant is censored. In other words, the obscenity is treated as less offensive. It's just really interesting, that's all.