Thursday, October 02, 2008

Congressin' is hard

There's a reason why more people dislike Congress than the President:

Much attention was focused on the 133 House Republicans who opposed the legislation Sept. 29.

“I haven’t heard anything about numbers’’ from the GOP, said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., reiterating the Democratic leadership’s position that “we need 100 Republican votes to pass this.”

Only 65 Republicans voted “yes” Sept. 29, but GOP leaders said they were working to increase that number in a second vote.

“House Republican leadership has been working in a coordinated fashion all day to secure the votes for the bipartisan economic rescue package,” said Antonia Ferrier, an aide to Minority Whip Roy Blunt , R-Mo. “With the changes to the bill . . . we are continuing to lay out in real terms the importance of getting this bill done.”

To recap for those of you playing at home, when a House deal seemed to be in place, House Republicans pitched a last minute "market-based" solution that was championed by John McCain. This plan was roundly criticized as being unworkable and unfeasible from the get-go. (Seriously, what is the point of giving investors capital gains relief when they are suffering capital losses?) House Republicans then voted by nearly a 2-1 margin against the bill, initially citing Nancy Pelosi's "partisan" speech as a reason for their vote (many Republicans backed off this silly claim after they were mocked by Barney Frank). Of course, the speech had nothing to do with the vote, and neither, apparently, did the good faith of the Grand Ol' Party, as the RNC cut ads against the bailout before the vote was cast.

After all of this, and in all their grand ol' wisdom, the Democratic leaders in the Senate found it fit to put forward a version of the bill that will further appeal to the back-stabbing troglodyte faction of the House. It gets even better. The Senate bill also features over $100 billion in new spending, to include the extension of tax cuts and unfunded programs like the long-overdue Mental Health Parity Act. The Cucking Stool has learned that Harry Reid has also agreed to personally give Eric Cantor a belly scratch.

Of course, to be fair to Senate Democrats, this is what any good American does these days in the face of massive debt: pull out another credit card.

To hit on an earlier post by Spotty, the fundamentals of this current financial crisis have yet to be addressed. Significant oversight? Sorry, the President can revisit the matter in about 5 years. Collateral for taxpayer risk? Nope, that would clog up the system even more. Increased regulation on the types of securities that got us in this mess in the first place? Nah, Wall Street bankers are too smart for that and they'll figure out a way around it.

Folks, we have no idea where the bad debt is or how much is out there. Nobody has a clear sense of what the books look like. Do you have any idea of just how much over-leveraged debt is out there? I'll give you a little clue: it's a hell of a lot more than $700 billion. As someone who favors regulation, let me play Devil's Advocate to myself: What happens if increased regulation opens up the books to find a gap that can't be crossed? Pragmatically, wouldn't it be better to loosen banking rules and let them find creative ways to make ends meet in order to bring this thing in as safely as one can in a crash landing? Why isn't anyone asking for the owners of bad home debt to reset various mortgages as collateral on their reception of a taxpayer handout? Hell, let's reset some mortgages to the appraised value of their homes. If you want to see me pump some money into the economy, you can shave $30-40k off my home loan...the value of which everybody on planet earth knows is no longer really there.

Wrapping this thing up, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that Congress is currently contemplating a 2nd bailout package that is worse than the first. I shouldn't be surprised that Congressional Democrats, fresh off of being negotiated with in bad faith, crafted a proposal that seeks to placate the interests of their bad faith peers. I shouldn't be surprised that the new proposal lacks proper oversight and taxpayer collateral, but is loaded with unfunded programs and additional spending.

Somehow, I still am.

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