Monday, September 29, 2008

Disgusted with Congress and Jay Inslee

I was disappointed and disgusted with the failure of the House to pass the bailout bill. The House vote this afternoon represented a complete failure of leadership and courage. The folks in Congress are way too well educated to fail to understand what this means. They all know that passing this bill, or one very much like it, is critical to the recovery of the American economy. There's no real debate about that. The reason they didn't pass it is because it's unpopular, and an election is coming up.

This bill is a pretty good bill. I doubt that it's perfect, but the final, negotiated version addressed all of my initial concerns. It doesn't allow for huge golden parachutes. It's going to make the companies that messed up feel quite a bit of pain. It has the potential for a real upside: there's no way that it will actually cost taxpayers $700 billion, and there's even a small but real chance that taxpayers could turn a profit when all is said and done. At the same time, if we don't pass some sort of a rescue package, I think we could be looking not just at a recession, but at a second Great Depression.

Everyone knows exactly why the House voted this down: as necessary as it is, it's unpopular, primarily with people who don't understand what's going on. I've heard that voter sentiment – amongst folks that contact their representatives – is running something like 100:1 against the bailout. But the only way that can be the case is if people badly, badly misunderstand this crisis: both the nature of their own involvement and responsibility, and what will happen to them and the American economy if Congress doesn't act. In other words, our representatives know that they should approve this, but they also know that it puts their careers at risk. That's an admittedly tough moral choice, but there's no debate about what they should do.

I've never particularly cared for Jay Inslee, but the news today that he helped vote this proposal down has solidified my discontent, and I'll be voting for Larry Ishmael come November. Honestly, I don't know anything about him (except that his web site is a tad amateurish), but he's got to be better than Inslee.

I suppose we all know that between 1919 and 1939, people talked about "the Great War", not "the First World War", because there had been just one. I don't want the period between 1929 and 1941 to be known as "the First Depression". But if it does, Congress, and Jay Inslee among them, should be held morally responsible. Almost no-one on Wall Street knew what they were doing when they brought this on: but Congress knows exactly what this latest vote means for America.

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