29th September 2008
Secretary Paulson came to Capitol Hill about ten days ago with a very simple, three-page plan to do something I could describe in three paragraphs.
Congressional Democrats gave us over one hundred pages of additional weirdness that is either ineffectual, noxious, off the point, or will work against the goals of the original Paulson plan.
Let’s be completely clear about what Congressional Democrats and Republicans did.
They started with a list of objections to the Paulson plan, and a list of unrelated legislative priorities. These included, among other things: punishing executives of failing financial firms; giving taxpayers a direct upside from the recovery of the financial system; making the bailout fully risk-free for taxpayers; giving Congress the opportunity to second-guess and modify the plan later; satisfying the demands of the AFL-CIO, which popped up with a laundry-list of extraneous items they’ve been trying to enact for years; allowing overextended homeowners to avoid foreclosure; and funding left-wing activist groups.
If you want to know what all of Congress’s extraneous priorities were here, you need look no farther than the upcoming public statements of Barack Obama. Throughout the early stages of the legislative miasma, early last week, Obama’s statements were elliptical, content-free expressions of concern. He didn’t really know what to think. But he knew from long experience that when he has nothing to say, the way he says it makes people think he’s the smartest man in the world.