Why the Bailout Infuriates Voters
For the past several weeks voters were told by the White House, the so-called leadership of the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and numerous pundits on the airwaves that America faced utter economic collapse unless a $700 billion bailout plan conceived by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson was approved immediately. Skeptics of both the "crisis" and the purported "fix" were denounced for not understanding the economic turmoil that would flow from delay of even a few more days.
Two weeks ago we were told that failure to pass the proposed legislative "blank check" over the weekend would cause a one-third decline in the stock market come Monday morning. Nothing passed. The market slipped down, but not nearly as much as the "experts" had predicted. And when the bailout plan was rejected by the House the stock market actually went up! In fact, once the legislation was finally forced through Congress later in the week the market reacted with an even more dramatic decline than met the rejection of the original planned bailout. I guess we now know not to rely on the geniuses in Washington when it comes to "playing the market." (Although some of them do have an impressive track record of results in the arena of cattle futures and the use of "insider information" to produce profits.)
The bailout plan ultimately approved by Congress and signed into law by President Bush is scant on details and doesn't actually address the fact that the fiscal mess was created in large part by government rules and regulations that directed banks and lending institutions to loan huge sums of money to people who had no proven capacity to pay it back. Needless to say, the failure to deal with the problem while throwing tons of other people's money into this bailout scheme has produced some outrage from those "other people" — the taxpayers!
By failing to rein in the practices of lending to bad credit risks, there is no guarantee that the same abuses will not be repeated. In fact, it is almost a sure bet. The only thing that Congress has done is clear the bar tab of an alcoholic who was being turned away from the bar for failing to pay his bills. He now has a fresh start to go on another drunken binge.
The ineptitude, the finger-pointing, the bickering, and the deceit that have run rampant in this entire debacle have caused voters to lose confidence in our leaders — and rightly so. But what has pushed the public past the tipping point of outrage to pure rage is the fact that pork-barrel "sweeteners" like tax exemptions for "wooden arrows" and funding for wool research were added to the package in order to secure the votes for passage.
Faced with what was described as the most serious financial crisis in perhaps a century, and with our elected representatives supposedly recognizing and believing that to be true, they wouldn't act to avert the crisis unless they got a little something extra for their lobbyist buddies and special interest cronies? They would not fulfill their sworn duties without getting a little payoff?
Imagine your home catching on fire, with your children trapped inside the burning structure. As you watch in panic, the minutes tick by for what seems to be an eternity until finally the fire department arrives. Firefighters pour off of their trucks as the sirens blare and the lights flash. They grab their hoses and axes ready to rush into action to save your home and family. Then, they pause and ask you for a little extra cash from whatever you happen to have in your wallet before they are willing to do their job.
That is what Congress did last week. And it is why we should be disgusted with the whole bunch.