Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailing out the rich

It's difficult to know what to think about the so-called "bailout bill" that Congress has struggled with for the past 10 days and will likely vote on today. Plenty of people on the left and right (Newt Gingrich and Michael Moore, for example) are saying that such an allocation of the treasury is unnecessary, while many others whose opinions I take into account (George F. Will, Paul Krugman, Barack Obama) are saying that, despite the odiousness of this proposal, something has to be done.

Many in Congress -- including the Democratic leadership in both houses -- apparently feel they cannot sit by and not be part of a remedy when there is a chance of economic disaster on the horizon -- and that is the way that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke have described the future without the $700 billion bailout.

This roundtable on This Week with George Stephanopoulos was particularly interesting yesterday, with Will, Gingrich, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich and Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein, and several of them talked about Americans living above their means for the past decade or so. Pearlstein said that the rest of the world is tired of lending us money to do so.

Another truism here is that unfettered capitalism always leads to a feeding of swine at the trough. The deregulation pushed by the Republican Party beginning with Ronald Regan and escalating under George W. Bush -- always with the support of John McCain -- is partly to blame here, and whether we need to rescue Wall Street to save Main Street or not, it should be clear that the greed of the ruling class is much more of a threat to our way of life than earmarks, welfare or any of the culture war issues that the GOP routinely distracts Americans with around election time.

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