Just Hand Over The Money And Nobody Will Get Hurt
What’s wrong with the media? Today they showed their supreme lack of sensibility when switching coverage from the Senate Hearings on the Wall Street bailout cutting to live coverage of our lame-duck President delivering his last (thankfully) speech to the United Nations. Come on, guys, don’t you get it? Even though the part of the hearings you cut away from was merely the remarks of the committee members, we as an electorate desperately need to know what our elected officials are saying about this crisis. After all, the media has been harping for days on what a major crisis this is. Well, is it, or isn’t it?
It was painful to watch Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson stumbling, bumbling and stuttering out his answers to the questions posed to him this morning. His extreme discomfort was palpable and only served to deepen concern that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. He double-talked his way through every answer and failed to deliver one single answer that cleared up what exactly he intends to do. His pre-interrogation statement was equally not forthcoming. I have yet to hear anything that remotely borders on the doom and gloom that he must have laid on the Senators and Congressmen he met with last week. Whatever he said to them must have been a lot more daunting than anything I heard this morning. Is he just trying to protect the poor, simple citizen taxpayer from the dire truth that lies behind his request for $700,000,000,000.00 ($700 billion)? Go ahead, Hank, hit me with your best shot! I can take it.
In the most troubling exchange of the hearing this morning was this little jewel between Paulson and Senator Chuck Schumer (D) New York. Schumer asked Paulson a series of questions about how he would dole out the money, specifically whether it would be in several packages over the course of the bailout. Paulson assured Schumer that was the case. He stated that he wouldn’t be giving out the entire $700,000,000,000 in the next three months before he and the much-loved George W. Bush will be leaving Washington. My ears pricked up skeptically. Then, Schumer, who must think more like me than I dared to hope, moved in for the real question. He asked Paulson why he couldn’t take, say, $150,000,000,000 ($150 billion) for now and come back on January 20th – that’s after a new President has been sworn in – and ask for more if needed. At that point Paulson’s stumbling, bumbling and stuttering act took on the added feature of a tap dance as he tried to say everything but “yes” or “no” and ended up with an implied no.
That tells me everything I need to know about the Secretary’s plan, or should we call it the Bush Plan. If they don’t intend to spend $700,000,000,000 before leaving office in January, then why do they insist on getting it all now? I’m sorry, I just don’t trust them. They’ve been less than honest – what my mother calls “lying” – before. While insisting that he encourages oversight and transparency, Paulson would ask us to forget that he is working for the most secretive White House in my lifetime. I’m not buying.
Then there was this little nugget from Chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben Bernanke, another Bush appointee, don’t forget. When the discussion went back and forth about setting a price for these toxic securities that the taxpayers are being asked to take up – you know, whether the Treasury would buy them at “fire-sale” prices, which is what they are really worth, or “hold-to-maturity” prices which is their worth if they don’t default and are sold when the market turns around or they are paid off – Bernanke said they would be sold in “reverse auctions.” What the hell is that, my mind screamed. Bernanke explained. Reverse auctions are processes where investors will buy the “toxic debts” at fire-sale prices at auction and then turn around and sell them to the Treasury at hold-to-maturity prices. That means that those with enough money to snap up these so-called bargains will buy them from the lenders who made the mistake in the first place and then turn a profit by selling them to us, the taxpayers. Isn’t that the best news you’ve heard yet?
We can pretty well bet that the old friends of the current administration will crowd to the front of the line to snap up these “toxic debts” and then roll them over to us, the taxpayers, thus making huge profits that they can use to bankroll the next Republican election run. Isn’t that sweet? Only if you’re a Republican. The whole thing just reeks of the no-bid contracts that were let to Dick Cheney’s old friends over at Halliburton for the rebuilding of Iraq. You know, the it-will-pay-for-itself war?
The only good thing to see was a bunch of Republican senators finally waking up to their responsibilities as citizens of the United States of America and crying out against the Administration they have rubberstamped for years. The bad thing is that, although senators from both sides of the aisle are voicing tough talk on this matter, more than likely they will roll over, once again, to a well planned attack by the Bush Administration and its big-money supporters and give them what they want. Once again this evil Administration has raided the US Treasury for the benefit of those who it answers to and are holding the rest of us hostage to their greedy ends.
There is only one hope we have as citizens of this nation to take our country back, and that is to vote heavily Democratic in the upcoming election to send a message to the Republicans that their time is up. I know that there will be a lot of noise coming from John McCain and the Republicans that we can’t trust Obama to manage this mess that their party has brought about, but I point out one thing. Four years ago the same crowd – Republicans – called into doubt the trustworthiness of John Kerry. For those, like my mother-in-law who parroted the mantra, “I just don’t trust John Kerry,” I ask: SHOULD YOU HAVE TRUSTED GEORGE W. BUSH?