Let me say first of all that I have not read the plan, even though House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi keeps telling me that “it’s on the Internet.” I haven’t read it because, honestly, I’m pretty sure I won’t understand it. I mean, the reason why we’re in such a mess right now is basically that Wall Street created these über investment tools that are so complicated they sort of flew under the radar of the lax regulation for the past few years. So the odds that I’m going to step in and understand this plan are pretty small.
And while on the one hand, it is obvious something needs to be done soon to shore up our economy and reinstate some sense of confidence in markets throughout the world, there is the danger that legislation could be passed at the expense of the American people — all because of this sense of fear and foreboding. It’s been done before. As Dennis Kucinich told reporters from The Hill yesterday:
“They rushed this Congress into the Iraq resolution and look what happened. Catastrophe for this nation as well as for the people of Iraq,” said Kucinich.
So while it’s nice to believe that there is some actual leadership going on over on Capitol Hill, I also wonder if the Bush Administration is simply steamrolling the Congressional leaders — again — with their usual tactics of fear- mongering.
From that same news report:
Kucinich was about to enter a Capitol building meeting room with fellow House Democrats who have been critical of the $700 billion relief measure for the Wall Street crisis.
The meeting was organized by Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) and has been termed the “Skeptics Caucus.” Lawmakers were meeting with well-known economists, such as James Galbraith, economics professor at the University of Texas, and William Isaac, former chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Commission.
Speaking before the meeting, Sherman equated the Treasury Department proposal to a power-grab by the Bush administration as well as a gift to failing financial services firms.
“This is the greatest shift of power to the imperial presidency and the greatest shift of wealth to a still wealthy Wall Street that anyone could imagine,” said Sherman. In addition, the California Democrat also began distributing Sunday a “Dear Colleague” letter highly critical of the relief package.
Kucinich called for more hearings on the bailout despite Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke speaking about the proposal before lawmakers last week.
“None of this has been subject to a critical analysis. We haven’t had access to the books to the people who are claiming they are going broke,” said Kucinich. He also drew the parallel between the administration’s intense urgency on the Wall Street relief package and its drive towards the conflict in Iraq.
According to the Washington Post, a group of almost 200 economists who are not connected to Wall Street have signed a petition against the plan that. According to the Post story:
But almost 200 academic economists — who aren’t paid by the institutions that could directly benefit from the plan but who also may not have recent practical experience in the markets — have signed a petition organized by a University of Chicago professor objecting to the plan on the grounds that it could create perverse incentives, that it is too vague and that its long-run effects are unclear.
So let’s all take a deep breath and think this through. Fear got us into Iraq, and fear can do irreparable damage to our economy.