Bush Does a 9/11 Replay in Asking for Unprecedented Powers and Unprecedented Budget

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bush twn 2008.jpg
Just after the September 11th terrorist attacks occurred, George W. Bush went before the nation and made the case that he needed unprecedented authority — budgetary and military — to take on the threats poised at the well-being and safety of the country.
Now with the current economic crisis in the United States, Bush is yet again asking for unprecedented powers and budget.
What happened after 9/11?
We saw no-bid contracts given to firms like Halliburton. We saw $9 billion of U.S. taxpayer money “go missing” through the Coalition Provisional Authority. We saw abuses of power, the expansion of secrecy, and the promulgation of norms that seemed to be the very antithesis of what America stands for.
A nation’s values and its deep DNA are really only knowable and observable during times of crisis — when it’s tough to stand up for codes that seem a heavy burden during tough times.
We are in a crisis again — and the Bush administration is again asking Americans to forgo fundamental values.
Tonight, George Bush succeeded I think in scaring Americans that this crisis could be a systemic threat. Bush said “our entire economy is in danger.”
That’s the fear button. He pushed it. And he said the clock was ticking.
This seems like a bad episode of “24.”
What is shocking about the presentation by Bush — and the deal that is unfolding is that we don’t see any acceptance of responsibility for the failure of his team’s stewardship of the economy. We didn’t hear acknowledgment that the compulsive deregulation mantra of Bush’s political and economic allies created a massive bubble where lots of billionaires were created and now tens of millions of less fortunate Americans are holding the bill.
We didn’t hear Bush say that it’s time to reverse the tax cuts that he put in place to help those who have already benefited from the perverse finance and housing bubble that was pumped up.
We didn’t hear a firm commitment from Bush to help the working families who hold these sub-prime and adjustable rate mortgages to stay in their homes and to help stabilize the lives of hard-hit Americans, their neighborhoods and their jobs. All the while, the macro players and big firms and their stakeholders are bailed out.
We probably do need to float major funds into the financial sector — but there needs to be a quid pro quo written in to the deal, a new social contract that does away with the “winner takes all syndrome” that has helped rot out America’s economic promise.
And we need to hear what comes after the bail out. This nation is heading into recession — and is probably already there.
We need to trigger real growth in the real economy with real jobs — and that’s infrastructure.
We need a serious infrastructure commitment and a capital budget that helps make sure that some of this massive amount of money being let loose into the system actually gets some traction in rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and telecom infrastructure.
That was missing — and it must be part of this debate.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

69 comments on “Bush Does a 9/11 Replay in Asking for Unprecedented Powers and Unprecedented Budget

  1. Dmitry Novik says:

    The simple reason why President Bush was able to ask again a type of 9/11 Replay for Unprecedented Powers and Unprecedented Budget is because 9/11 Commission did not accomplished its mission prescribed by the law – reporting to the Nation all the being investigated truth and facts associated with 9/11 national tragedy equally in previous as well as in post 9/11 tragedy time frames, analyzing all these facts, recognizing all derived from that analysis appropriate lessons, to make accountable strongly officials � independent on their ranks – who are responsible for mistakes in performance their job duties that precluded to prevent 9/11 tragedy, and submitting as the result for the national debate and implementation the wide-ranging and far-reaching recommendations capable to make necessary corrections in the Federal Government, laws and regulations capable to prevent the next National tragedy, the current national financial crisis. The report submitted by the 9/11 Commission looks like �politically correct� but does not satisfied to the highest standard of trustworthy at all.
    I would like to share with the readers of this blog what I wrote 09/23/08 to Senator Dorgan on the current financial crisis:
    �Dear Senator Dorgan:
    I contacted you 09/23/08 shortly after your remarks at the Conference of New America Foundation asking to contact me without delay (it is factually �time is money� – around 700 billions of dollars of taxpayers� money for nothing in return). You asked me if I have something in writing. I prepared returning to my computer. Here it is
    What to do and how to do
    First, stay calm do not panic, skies are not falling. Do not hurry, think thoroughly first before do anything in a hurry and desperation.
    My proposals what to do for the next two weeks:
    1. Stop any Wall Street activities for two weeks in order not to panic for every day unreasonable ups and downs on the stock values.
    2. Reject Administration�s rescue plan for 700 billions resolutely and completely.
    3. Immediately legislate �Fixing critical infrastructures 2008 Act� to make absolutely necessary repair in all 50 states and in Washington DC for main critical infrastructures (bridges, roads, water supply and sanitary facilities). It might and should radically decrease the level of unemployment and uphold necessary salaries to support many desperate families around the whole country.
    4. All members of the Senate and the House for one week have to return to their districts to consult and discuss what to do to solve the current financial crisis. At the end of that week each member of the Senate and House have to return to Washington DC with written proposals from each and every members of the Congress and immediately to start the whole second week (Saturday and Sunday including) for National and congressional debate to find consensus for appropriate legislation act �Rescue 2008 Act� at the end of the second week.
    5. All think tanks that supported in part or completely with taxpayers� money from Federal Government must respond to the Congress at the end of the first week with written proposals what and how to legislate �Rescue 2008 Act�.
    6. Create new publicly available WEB site under the title �Proposals for Rescue 2008 Act� and put on this WEB site all proposals from all members of the Congress and all think tanks at the beginning of the second week. That WEB site has to be open freely for all citizens of the USA to submit his/her personal comments and proposals.
    7. After these two weeks Congress has to start debate what to do next for solving the main unresolved crucial domestic matters as well as in the sphere of foreign affairs.
    Dear Senator Dorgan, please do not delay our meeting at which it would be my obligation to answer on all your questions which might and should be after personal reading of this letter- appeal to you.
    Please, help me to help you in your crucially important business.� (By the way the same day 09/23/08 I e-mailed the copy of that letter-appeal to Senator to Steven Clemons).
    And now some fun.
    Sometime the anecdote describes the really crisis situation much shorter, better and in a very compressed, laconic form than it is made in a hurry unstoppable, unjustivable ad-hoc gab bla-bla manner speeches, conferences, op-ed columns and summit at the top of it. It is the situation with purely politically motivated McCain �initiative� to postpone coming Friday the first presidential debate, yesterday panic, desperate speech by annoyed Bush, today in the morning absolutely unprepared ad-hoc �revolutionary� summit.
    It�s a funny anecdote from the soviet times about October 1917 �revolution�. The evening time, seldom people are walking on the outskirts of St-Petersburg near the train station. One guy, Lenin is walking back and forth on the street with visual sense that he is in desperation and panic, has not any destination to walk. A little boy walking on the same street met Lenin and asked � uncle what�s happen, what is bothering you? You know what little boy, answered Lenin, you see – today is too earlier but tomorrow it will be too late. Uncle, said a little boy, it is no problem at all, – if today is too earlier and tomorrow it will be too late than make it overnight. Lenin suddenly, in a hurry is running to the train station with destination to downtown of St-Petersburg. That night the so called October 1917 �revolution� (overthrow of the Interim Government) started – the most regrettable and tragically event of the XX century unexpectedly and unreasonably burst out. The whole World, and mostly Russian people suffered severely and enormously in a more than 70 years, more than enough after such explode �revolution�.
    Let�s remind the folks� wisdom � the first mistake is a tragedy, the second time to make the same mistake is a farce. And another one � if you would make decision in a hurry your enemy would only laugh on you with great pleasure.
    Might I say that the USA and the World population do not need another farce at all?
    Dmitry Novik
    09/25/08

    Reply

  2. george in toronto says:

    Don’t trust anyone that changes their last names for gain.
    Scherff to Bush.Yaap,now you know the Bush family are X german-moneychangers.Put some thought into this–why has one of the Bush brothers a Jewish first name–Marvin? Huuuum!
    Wake-up America your been fleeced–like sheep :^)
    This bail out is intended to be channeled to Israel and future wars (IRAN)
    Cheers!

    Reply

  3. arthurdecco says:

    John Shaw:
    “Stop The Bleeding First !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    …Simply put, by transfusing blood into a patient BEFORE you have stopped the bleeding is stupid.”
    You could have stopped there because those typewritten words say it all, Mr. Shaw.

    Reply

  4. John Shaw says:

    Stop The Bleeding First !!!!!!!!!!!!!
    1) Simply put, by transfusing blood into a patient BEFORE you have stopped the bleeding is stupid. You will run through this money before you can agree on how to stop it in a non-partisan manner. So use the dire situation as what you need to get all the problems fixed. Congress can work on individual company needs piece meal until a viable plan is finalized.
    Same Old Trickle Down Economics
    2) Fixing the problem this way ( bailing out large institutions ) is the same old “trickle down economics” that we all should have learned that do not create jobs and only make the rich richer. If you help fix things on Main Street you are allowing the little guy to buy the necessary things he needs to succeed from business owners who in turn buy from suppliers who in turn buy from manufacturers and you thus create a broader market. The rich still get richer, but who cares as long as everyone else has what they need and the economy is strong.
    Recognizing Where the Problem Came From
    3) Fixing the problem is recognizing where the problems came from. The media has focused on the mortgage industry as creating this problem Yes they have contributed to the problem, however this problem started about 7 years ago when jobs market started to disappear and wages went flat. Even though inflation is low, how long can you last paying your bills if every year you can buy 3% less ( average inflation rate ) than what you bought the year before??? In 7 years that’s about 25% less income to pay for the same bills. How many people can do that. Couple that with many people having been out of work even for a short time and how can families catch back up on their bills when they make 25% less than they did 7 years ago???
    Risk Based Solution
    I have been in the mortgage business since before time began and have The Risked Based Model needed to keep the government from taking on 100% of the risk and responsibility of failed mortgages.
    Stop the Bleeding
    Obviously if the bleeding doesn’t stop on foreclosures then the $700B infusion will look like a small down payment on the problem and the US could be headed for “Junk Bond Status” when looking to borrower money in the future.
    Since the “Lines are Blurred” between the public and Private sector as looks like is temporarily necessary then I propose a risk based solution which shares the risk and rewards of this market.
    My solution is below:
    The 4 Point Solution
    1) FHA guarantees 30% instead of the 20% it guarantees today. Today’s risk models call for it and that is why there are no lenders left in the market actually doing an FHA loan. All so called FHA loans are being over-laid with lender requirements which basically changes FHA from a first time home buyer friendly program to a highbred conventional loan which doesn’t allow many hundreds of thousands of people who should be able to get an FHA loan from getting one. Lenders who use the FHA guaranteed programs would be required to go back to “True FHA Guidelines”
    2) For those already in trouble with their mortgage ( 30 to 90 days late ) HUD/FHA would guarantee 40% of the mortgage
    3) For those already into foreclosure, HUD/FHA would guarantee 50% of the mortgage.
    4) Bankruptcy laws will be amended to allow all Non Mortgage Debt to go into a “Temporary Highbred Chapter 7” that will allow all such debt to be eliminated down to a total debt ( mortgage and other ) of 45% ( considered a safe debt load by the mortgage industry ) This will accomplish personal liquidity and keep the mortgage in tact AND since it will be a bankruptcy it will keep the borrower from getting themselves into the same shape again soon. Debt counseling will be required to take advantage of this “Temporary Highbred Chapter 7” If married both husband and wife will be required to go on the bankruptcy even if just one of them is on the note. This will keep people from jumping back into debt in trying to get around the law
    Just one other point on Mortgage Brokers.
    Trying to blame Mortgage Brokers as an industry is like blaming the convenience store who sold your father his cigarettes for his cancer
    I would appreciate your insights
    Warm Regards
    John Shaw
    336-345-9306

    Reply

  5. DonS says:

    Questions, yes to all. Answer: all manner of structural, finacial, planning infrastructure need to change to induce a more healthy mix — just as the present structure has led to the natural consequences of rot.
    The Europeans have a much better handle on the whole thing.

    Reply

  6. questions says:

    DonS,
    There’s another side to all of this ownership stuff — schools and crime levels. Ownership is what gets you to the ‘burbs where the schools have resources and the the house next door isn’t a crack den. Because of zoning laws, high density rentals don’t exist in nicer suburbs. You have to own if you’re going to send your kids to a decent school.
    And further, you’re encouraged to own because you can resell at a profit and the capital gains from the resale are barely taxed anymore. It used to be that you had to buy a more expensive home to have the gains untaxed, but now capital gains tax is, I’m pretty sure, not levied on a huge portion of real estate gain.

    Reply

  7. DonS says:

    Oracle, good point about the “ownership” society, whether the plan was a thoroughly preconceived as you think, or just within the bounds of Republican thinking, or primarily for a fleece the middle class money grab.
    Home, and the purchase of homes, morphed into a transaction resembling just about any consumer transaction. And it aint, and should’nt be.
    Why is it, in Anglo-American law, that transactions for the sale and ownership of real property are treated in a significantly different manner from other forms of contract law? From other rights and obligations? Its the pinnacle of legal formality and arcane interpretation.
    But these investment banks induced and reduced the practice to something less weighty than buying a used car.
    As for the great “ownership society” mantra, not everyone should own a house. Its not practical, economical or efficient for probably the majority of indviduals, much less for society as a whole. But what the Bushies did was reduce home ownership to a gross form of consummerism thus continuing to degrade and demean the meaning and focus of being a citizen in a civil society.

    Reply

  8. questions says:

    Don Bacon, you’re too kind.
    You can always ignore my postings if they are so offensive to your way of being.
    “Grilled cheese for dinner” is not a very clever satire. Remember that Steve posted a China/space piece that was pulled down a few days later. I was wondering if this was the event he had referred to. I don’t have cable and the NY Times doesn’t think much of the story, so I didn’t know about it. So sorry again to have stepped on your electron toes. They must be quite tender at this point, blistered and bloodied from all of my stomping.
    Sorry for the death of your mother. Mine is dying slowly from cancer.
    And thanks for the premature notice of my own death. Memento mori.

    Reply

  9. Don Bacon says:

    OT
    My mom just called and said we’re having grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. Anyone know anything?
    PS: My mom is dead (and so is “questions”, blogwise).

    Reply

  10. The Oracle says:

    Remember Bush’s “ownership society” theme?
    Remember the Republican push for a “permanent Republican majority”?
    Well, these are connected…and actually have caused the current Wall Street meltdown.
    “Property owners” tend to be more conservative, just as investors tend to be, with money and property going hand in hand.
    “Property owners,” typically being more conservative, also tend to vote for Republicans instead of Democrats.
    Thus, if the Republicans could pump up the number of “property owners,” adding people from the pool of American citizens who aren’t “property owners,” then the Republicans could, or so they hoped, pumped up the number of people voting for Republicans instead of Democrats, thus assuring Republicans of a “permanent Republican majority.”
    To do this, the Republicans, their conservative lobbyists, and corporate pals on Wall Street had to bypass normal lending policies and procedures, de-regulating and basically destroying lending filters, safeguards meant to keep credit-overextended, collateral-challenged individuals from taking out loans, especially home loans, which they probably would have a hard time repaying.
    Thus, the current Republican-created debacle on Wall Street.

    Reply

  11. questions says:

    OT
    My mom just called and said China launched a manned satellite??? Is this the great adventure we were told of? Did it even really happen? NYT doesn’t have a thing on it. Anyone know anything?

    Reply

  12. WigWag says:

    Dan Kervick asks the most interesting question on this thread; is the current bail out plan a good idea. The real question is a good idea for whom?
    I take a contrarian view on this. I think working people will be far better off if the bail out goes through even without the federal government taking an equity interest in companies they buy debt from (through warrants). At the end of the day, lower income people will come out far better if the tax payer ends up footing the bill instead of shareholders.
    The reason is simple, despite the fact that Republicans have made the tax system much less progressive than it once was, it is still very progressive.
    The top one percent of households pays 28 percent of all federal income tax (and gets 18 percent of all personal income). To be in the top one percent you need to earn $307,500 or more. The top five percent ($145,000 or more of income) pay 36 percent of all federal taxes. The bottom 40 percent of people pay no federal income tax at all.
    By and large, people who pay significant federal income tax are the wealthier members of our society who are more equipped to bear the burden that the bailout might entail.
    Compare this with who those who own shares in equities and fixed income securities in the United States. Comparatively speaking, it’s not the fat cats. While great wealth is concentrated in the hands of a small number of wealthy Americans, more than 30 million Americans still have traditional pensions (defined benefit plans). Payouts from those pensions rely almost entirely on earnings from stocks and bonds. 31 million Americans have a 401k account. The bulk of this money is invested in stocks. 40 million Americans have IRAs. A significant portion of this money is invested in the stock market.
    Most working Americans have all or almost all of the wealth tied up in their homes and their retirement accounts. If the bail out plan isn’t passed and the stock market plunges, home prices will plunge right along with them. The assets in the retirement accounts will also fall dramatically. This will be devastating, especially for those who have no other source of wealth. It could result in losses of tens of thousands of dollars for people who are already living on the margin.
    And if they want to send their kids to college but can’t afford it; if the stock market plunges they can forget the college scholarship. After all to pay for scholarships, universities need a healthy endowment which a stock market plunge will forestall. If they like to go to the opera or the ballet or the symphony but can only afford the cheap seats, they can forget that too. It’s the endowments of arts organizations that subsidize the cheap seats.
    In 2004 (the most recent figure I could find), the medium federal tax payment was $8,600. Even if federal taxes were raised by 20 percent to pay for the bailout (which they won’t be) the medium tax rate would go up by less than $2,000. That’s far less than the likely drop in home values and retirement savings if the stock market plunges as a result of failure to pass the bail out.
    Perhaps my logic is flawed, but it seems to me that letting the tax payer instead of the shareholder pay for the bailout is the more progressive thing to do.

    Reply

  13. questions says:

    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE3D7153AF936A25750C0A964958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all
    Bill Clinton is mainly the friend of big business,” Mr. Becker said in an interview. “Labor has backed him some in the past, true, but only because he’s been the lesser of two evils in a right-to-work state in the Deep South.”
    While Mr. Clinton has been Governor, Mr. Becker argued, Arkansas has remained at the bottom in most statistical measures of economic progress and quality of life. He contended that Mr. Clinton has boasted about the state’s right-to-work law and its bottom-ranked wages in an effort to lure business to the state, has ignored safety concerns and has done little to push for better benefits for working people.
    “Every time he’s claimed to be our friend, we’ve ended up with a knife in the back,” Mr. Becker said. Sued by U.A.W.
    Recently, Mr. Becker sent a lengthy confidential memorandum to the A.F.L.-C.I.O. headquarters in Washington in which he discussed Mr. Clinton’s labor record.
    “I concluded that, at best, the Governor had sided with labor on only one of every four issues,” Mr. Becker said in the interview.
    _________________
    1992 NYT piece on Clinton’s mixed bag labor relations. HRC would have been a gamble too.
    _________
    Polarizing the world, dividing labor and management, knowledge workers and manual workers and retail workers and food workers and farm workers… doesn’t help. We all do better with better working conditions for all. And we’d all benefit with NO RIGHT-TO-WORK laws (Arkansas is a right-to-work state).

    Reply

  14. questions says:

    Don Bacon,
    Once again, there’s a long running issue about class and Obama’s supporters vs. Clinton’s supporters — note WigWag’s post right above. How class and political choice are related seems to me to be in the range of acceptable topics — why do Wall Streeters want the bail out, why does Bush want the power, how does power flow through society? All of this is related in my brain, to be honest. I don’t think I’m capable of hijacking anything; I’m not a violent person. (And I think there’s enough real estate here. If Steve has a problem with my taking up band width, he can block my IP address…..)
    And further, the class division that WigWag feels from the bottom and the Wall Streeter/Bush cadre feel from the top is likely a huge problem. When we separate “our kind” into a distinct class with interests vastly different from those of the other, we end up in deep trouble. Wall Street needs a functioning Main Street, we all need good public health facilities…. We’re on the planet together, and I wish we’d see it that way.
    And WigWag, I don’t work for AAUP, nor am I a member. Sorry. And yes, I did say some university professors do quite fine in this world. They are not at all the only supporters of Obama. And voting for HRC is also “taking a chance” — if she’s utterly like her husband, watch out if you need public aid! There’s a class issue. Trade/NAFTA is a problem…. HRC isn’t the answer to all things working class — WHICH YOU STILL HAVEN’T DEFINED! (And remember, if Bill Gates and I are in the same room, the average income goes WAY WAY up, but I’m just as broke as always. If I find data on, say, English profs at regional universities, I’ll post it — risking the wrath of Don Bacon….)
    In the end, I’d just ask you not to lump large numbers of people into broad and unsubstatiated categories. It gets to me!

    Reply

  15. pauline says:

    Selling “fear” allows bush to spend millions and billions of taxpayers’$$ on unnecessary DOD contracts, unnecessary Homeland Security contracts, unnecessary weapons contracts, unnecessary NSA contracts, unnecessary spy satellite contracts, unnecessary foreign aid payments, etc, etc. . .blah, blah, blah — and all in the name of “protecting the American people”.
    With selling “fear” he can really scr*w any idea of reforming the nation’s healthcare, he can really scr*w reforming individual income tax (which he promised in his 2004 campaign) as well as the true reforming/collecting of corporate income taxes, he can really scr*w any national plan and effort for using renewable energy as a priority, he can really scr*w the middle-class and lower-income citizens by NOT having a national agenda for bringing business and community leaders together to find creative ways to add new jobs to our economy, he can really scr*W everyone by. . .robbing us citizens of $700 billion that will just be the start of future massive robberies.
    Just consider bush as a corrupt general contractor who hires all the rest of these federal sub-contractors on a bunch of no-bid federal contracts.
    Can you spell M-A-F-I-A ?
    It is beyond rational thinking that a president could be as incompetent as he is. In fact, it’s not his incompetence, it is his gross mishandling of citizens’ rights and constitution, citizens’ tax dollars and the general economy that I must conclude is his (and his daddy’s and his daddy’s friends) no-longer-a-secret world fascism plan.
    So bye-bye, miss american pie. . .

    Reply

  16. Don Bacon says:

    questions, you may think it’s clever to highjack a thread for your own purposes, faculty salaries, but at a time when Steve Clemons has written a highly thoughtful comment on THE major issue of this time — the supposed economic crisis and what to do about it — your comments are out of line. Please stop it and contribute to the issue at hand, as I know you can.

    Reply

  17. WigWag says:

    Questions, thank you for your passionate defense of tenured faculty. You are an eloquent and passionate advocate for them. You must work for the American Association for University Professors (AAUP) or some similar organization. If not, they should hire you.
    In my original comment (that one that got you and MarkL so steamed up) I said: “Have you ever met a university professor? They work 5-10 hours a week and do nothing but complain about how tough they have it.”
    You sent me a link from the Chronicle of Higher Education that listed the salaries of college faculty. You’re right; college faculty (and community college faculty) work harder, have fewer perks and make less money. They are more akin to public school teachers.
    But I mentioned university faculty. The same link you sent me lists average salaries for University faculty. I ran a spread sheet and low and behold, the average salary for full professors at American universities (including the public ones that pay lower salaries) is $112,000. That puts these “oppressed” workers in the top 25 percent by income earned by American workers. Most people would love to be in the top quartile. And by the way, they also have their TIAA/CREF accounts, their sabbaticals, their research meetings/junkets and their incredibly light work loads. If they work long hours it’s because they want to, not because they have to. Most people work long hours because they have to, not because they want to.
    It’s was easy for this group early on to be supporters of Senator Obama. To them, the results of the election were abstract. They didn’t need a qualified candidate with a proven record of results. They didn’t need Clinton, Biden, Richardson or Dodd. The person who won was merely an intellectual exercise for these folks. They knew they were going to be fine either way.
    MarkL, you say, “sure being a professor can be a good job, but I don’t know why you are singling out academics as having it made. It’s a rare academic who qualified as anything but middle class. Doctors and lawyers and engineers—-and software “consultants”—routinely make much more money.”
    You’re right, on average doctors and lawyers have higher salaries than university professors, but they all have salaries in the top quartile. That makes them wealthy (comparatively speaking). As I said, they are all more akin to hedge fund managers than roofers or barbers.
    If you are a low wage worker, the minimum wage is really important to you, especially how often it is increased. If you are marginally employed whether unemployment benefits will be extended matters alot. If you work in a factory and are trying to unionize, the membership of the NLRB affects your life directly, not abstractly. No wonder these workers were more skeptical of Obama. They are in much less of a position to take a chance on an inexperienced, unproven candidate. The person who wins and his/her capabilities have a direct bearing on their livelihood.
    And as I said, the “knowledged” classes knew they would be just fine either way.
    Taking a chance on an eloquent, unproven new comer seemed just fine to them. If a Republican was elected, these folks knew they would thrive because they thrived under Bush. If the new comer was elected and didn’t work out; so what? They would still be collecting a paycheck. After all, they had tenure.
    It’s the difference between living on the margin and being privileged and elite.
    What’s so hard to understand about that?

    Reply

  18. questions says:

    Don Bacon, there’s an underlying argument about class, Obama, Clinton, elites and the like. I’m sorry it doesn’t meet with your approval. Just skip this posting if it’s unbearable to your delicate sensibility….
    WigWag, here’s the Chronicle for Higher Ed. salary table, page one of college (BA, not PH.D. granting institutions).
    http://chronicle.com/stats/aaup/index.php?action=result&search=Enter+an+institution+name&state=&year=2008&category=IIB&withRanks=1&limit=
    Lots of lower full prof salaries.
    The doctoral institution salaries are notably higher often because of skewing by med school/B-schoool and engineering prof salaries — where there’s either outside demand and salaries are higher to meet the demand, or where there’s outside income that is sometimes tossed in. Note that doctoral institutions have very heavy research requirements that add hours and hours to the work week. You might not teach a lot, but you’re reading large numbers of dissertations or spending weekends in the lab….
    Again, the point is that it’s not chardonnay all the time, no suffering and therefore Obama. One can be financially stressed as a “knowledge worker”, one can be financially stressed and support Obama, and you still haven’t defined “working class”…..
    Does a full prof at Adams State College, making 63K to support a family of, say, 4 or 5 count? How about Alderson-Broaddus in W.Va where it’s 44K? What counts for working class?
    Again, full time salaries at doctoral institutions are higher. But there are lots of academics who aren’t at such schools. And I’m pretty sure that half of the degrees granted in this country are granted by community colleges. (But this one should be fact-checked.)
    And one can own a small businees and really ENJOY life and work. One can be a carpenter and really enjoy life and work. One can fix cars and really enjoy life and work. So enjoyment probably isn’t much of a dividing line.
    So, again, what’s “working class”??
    You really have a major category mistake near as I can tell. You’re confusing a small percentage of faculty who do indeed have cushy lives with the rest of the profession. It’s a two tier system — just like unionized factory workers have settled for. Low wage, no security workers at the bottom, and lucky generally older secure people at the top. Some places have good worker protection, some places rely on part-time and temporary non-tenurable postitions.
    It’s not all Harvard all the time. Really.

    Reply

  19. Ajaz says:

    Let Warren Buffett Manage the Financial Bailout
    Congress is rightly concerned about how and who will manage the bailout. There is no doubt that banks should not be given blank checks at arbitrary pricing for their toxic assets. Also, the Senior Executives of banks benefiting from the bailout must also agree to forgo bonuses for a number of years.
    The markets need a quick positive signal from Congress, delays could bring down the entire financial world. Congress should pass a simple bailout package without getting bogged down into the hows and whys. They should request Warren Buffett to manage the entire bailout package. He is the shrewdest investor and will drive hard bargains with banks before giving them a dime. Let him impose conditions as he deems fit. He is already of the opinion that bankers will have to give up bonuses for a while.
    Going by Warren’s track record, an investment of $700 billion of tax payers money will probably come back to the treasury as $1 trillion. All he needs is a handful of good people to help him manage this.

    Reply

  20. Don Bacon says:

    Everybody who is interested in faculty salaries, off topic, raise your hand.

    Reply

  21. MarkL says:

    Tenure to protect academic freedom a quaint idea?
    Maybe to a Republican.
    Sure being a professor can be a good job, but I don’t know why you are singling out academics as having it made. It’s a rare academic who qualified as anything but middle class. Doctors and lawyers and engineers—-and software “consultants”—routinely make much more money.

    Reply

  22. WigWag says:

    Questions and MarkL, you make me laugh. I don’t doubt that junior faculty and postdocs work their butts off. And I certainly understand that getting tenure today is alot harder than it was thirty years ago. But give me a break, rarely do you find an Associate or full Professor who teaches more than two courses a semester. Most teach one. Many teach none. Those who do teach frequently have one or more graduate students to help them with their teaching and grading tests and papers.
    If you’re teaching a course you haven’t taught before I don’t doubt that it takes alot of preparation. But if you are teaching a course you’ve taught more than once (perhaps 20 times?)the minor modifications to the curriculum can’t take long at all. Most senior faculty, if they teach at all, are teaching courses they’ve taught many times in the past.
    Yeah, going to those conferences must be tough. All the stress of wondering whether Power Point is going to crash on you or not, must just be too hard to bear some times. And tell me, when you travel to those conferences, are you usually staying in the Marriott or the Hyatt or the Day’s Inn or the Motel 6?
    As far as research goes, I am sure it’s very time consuming. It’s alot like golf; people do it because they love to do it. It may be alot of work, but if you love to do it, it isn’t hard work; not the way putting a roof on a house is for example.
    And as for those salaries you say are so low; plenty of faculty members make six figures. Perhaps those in the arts and humanities make a little less. But if you make $100 thousand or more (which most senior faculty do)you are in the top 25 percent of all income earners in the United States. That sounds pretty elite to me. And lets not forget the health insurance, the retirement plans in TIAA/CREF, the sabbaticals every seven years. How many waiters or pipe fitters do you know who get sabbaticals.
    And then there’s tenure. The idea that tenure exits to protect academic freedom is quaint. It exists to protect dead wood facutly who think they are entitled to their jobs for life even if they’re lousy teachers who don’t publish.
    Get real folks. If you are a tenured facutly member, you’ve won the lottery of life. You have alot more in common with your average hedge fund manager than you have with your average, barber, secretray, roofer, carpenter, etc.
    Pretending to be something you’re not, doesn’t make it true.

    Reply

  23. Alex Becker says:

    If one takes the time to look at the history surrounding the Great Depression, you’ll notice how very little the government does to attept to avoid the crisis. Bush’s response to the current situation has been mainly to stay out of the policy debate, exactly what he should do given his lack of expertise in the subject. I view this request for authority as an attempt by Bush to speed up the process of implementing the much needed bail out plan, not pushing the “fear button.”

    Reply

  24. Linda Webb says:

    Bush’s speech has absolutely no effect on my thinking. He is a lame duck president, has presided over this country for nearly eight years, all the time proclaiming the economy to be in fine shape. He is not relevant and hasn’t been for some time now. The “photo op” this afternoon is merely a tactic to delay a debate with the candidate who has a plan, has the intelligence to run this country and start the recovery process. Too bad we have to wait until January of ’09 to make it official.

    Reply

  25. Surly Duck says:

    question & MarkL
    Those who trash teachers rarely know any personally. Most of my family is in that profession.
    God bless, and keep up the great work!

    Reply

  26. Bob says:

    hello from Germany, I think your article says a lot about the truth, sometimes in Europe we laugh about how much the American people believe there government.Why should the fat cats be saved, and why should the normal people be punished.If the crisis is caused by people not being able to pay for their homes? then give the 700 billion to these people and then the problem is also solved

    Reply

  27. PrahaPartizan says:

    Steve, you forgot to mention that, in addition to trying to scare the American electorate into supporting his bogus bail-out program, he lied about it too. He said that the Treasury will be buying these toxic assets at current prices. His own Treasury Secretary and Fed Reserve Chairman explicitly stated that the Treasury would not be buying this trash at current, “fire sale” prices. Instead, Treasury will be buying them at some higher price, which reduces the probability that the Treasury will ever be able to make a profit on the future, ultimate sale of the assets. How else can the program actually recapitalize the banking system?
    Bush either doesn’t know how this program is supposed to work or decided to lie to the public one last time. He lied us into the war. Why wouldn’t he lie us into accepting this burden on the average citizen and taxpayer to protect the wealth of his “base?” Either way, he clearly wanted to reduce any trust in his proposals even further.

    Reply

  28. Cee says:

    It seems that the Democrats screamed and ran like babies.
    They haven’t learned a thing.

    Reply

  29. questions says:

    MarkL,
    Is your head exploding from cognitive dissonance? I mean, lattes AND Clinton? OMG, and academia??? Didn’t think it was possible! (Insert smiley emoticon.)

    Reply

  30. MarkL says:

    That’s right, questions:
    There are plenty of Ph.D’s who are teaching part time at an assortment of colleges, perhaps not even getting benefits, working far more than full time, at pauper’s wages ($25,000 or less), who do it because they love teaching.
    I’m a professor too, even though I supported Hillary.
    I even drink lattes.

    Reply

  31. questions says:

    “Have you ever met a university professor? They work 5-10 hours a week and do nothing but complain about how tough they have it.”
    AAARGHHHHHHH
    The ones I know work 60-80 hours a week, really. If you have a reduced teaching load, you write books, papers, conduct research, support graduate students, read dissertations and theses, travel to conferences, keep up with your field, do university and departmental committee work, and field organization committee work, do on-site research (anthro and archeology), keep up with private practice (psych and med), do consulting work…. If you have a heavy teaching load, you have hours of prep, grading, advising, e-mail, committee work…. The work is intellectually rewarding, but it’s not 5-10 hours a week. (I won’t deny that some people take advantage of the system and stop working when they get tenure. But then, they don’t get promotions and pay raises. And there probably are some people who are overpaid and underworked, but that’s not the only academic story.) And many don’t have summers off because they teach more in order to make enough money.
    And academics put as much as 8-10 years of POST-COLLEGE schooling in for comparatively low salaries given the number of years of schooling. Not too many English profs make 150,000 a year….
    And furthermore, academia, like all “knowledge fields” has a seamy underside of part-time and temporary workers who move from campus to campus, city to city, with no guarantee of work the following year, or even the following semester. Lots of “knowledge workers” make less than plumbers….
    So once again, WigWag, please stop generalizing. And please, once again, define what you mean by “working class” — is it income, education….?
    You write as if you feel that a bunch of professors and lawyers and the rest of Obama’s coalition STOLE the primary from you, just to make you suffer. Aaarghhh.

    Reply

  32. Don Bacon says:

    During an economic meltdown caused by excessive government spending which ought to call for belt-tightening, guess what, Congress is continuing and even accelerating government spending. The excessive 2009 Pentagon corporate welfare budget has been increased even further by earmarks, giving the Pentagon money it hasn’t even asked for. While the Democratic Congress has been voting for these corporate slush funds with one hand it has been blaming Bush with the other. Is there no shame?
    WASHINGTON (AP) — Bowing to President Bush’s demands, the House passed a mammoth package for the Pentagon on Wednesday that contains a pay raise for troops, billions of dollars for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — and some political protection for lawmakers during a tense election season. The 392-39 vote sent the $612 billion defense authorization bill to the Senate, which was expected to clear it this week.
    The $612 billion military authorization bill would also fully fund the request for a radar site in the Czech Republic, opening the door for the next U.S. administration to begin building a European missile defense system.
    Democrats made clear early on that any Republican efforts to block the bill would be characterized as disrespect for military personnel. However, negotiators addressed objections from some Senate Republicans to $5 billion in pet projects not requested by Bush, called earmarks. In the compromise, the earmarks are listed in a table accompanying the legislation.
    Senate appropriators recently disclosed close to $3 billion in project requests that were not included in the Pentagon’s budget request for fiscal 2009, according to a calculation by The Hill and Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS). That is more than $2 billion less than what the Senate disclosed last year.

    Reply

  33. Linda says:

    Wigwag,
    Your latest post made me smile a lot. I don’t know if Obama will be President and if he will then prove you or me right.
    I’d be happy to arrange a time to talk with you in a couple weeks–just too busy right now and explain. Just give Steve permission to give me your e-mail address or he has my permission to give you mine.

    Reply

  34. Don Bacon says:

    “What’s the difference between a whore and a congressman? A congressman makes more money.”–Edward Abbey
    Nancy Pelosi, in her most recent financial disclosure form, reported that her husband owned between $250,000 and $500,000 of stock in AIG, which ceded majority control to the U.S. government this week in exchange for $85 billion of loans.

    Reply

  35. WigWag says:

    “I know that it is hard for you to get beyond “That would be Barack Weak in the Knees Obama.” But the next President isn’t going to be FDR, Harry Truman, or Hillary or Bill Clinton.”
    Linda, thats why I plan to suck it up and vote for Obama/Biden. But lets face it, the Democrats ran into a little luck. Before the crisis hit, Obama was fading in the polls and his popularity was on the wane. His political future was rescued by the current crisis just like Guiliani’s popularity was resuced by 9/11.
    So unless he does something really stupid Obama will win and I will be glad enough that he did. Certainly I will be delighted to get rid of the Republicans who have damaged our country beyond measure.
    But if Democrats keep nominating candidates like Obama they will lose next time and the time after that.
    Obama can change all of that, but only if he changes. His political persona is as shallow as that of George Bush.
    His “new politics” mantra may appeal to spoiled baby boomers and weak kneed upper middle class voters. Why wouldn’t it? They’re doing just fine. A little tweak here and there and everything will go swimmingly for them.
    The “knowledged” workers have alot more in common with the Wall Street crowd and corporate CEOs than they do with working people. University professors and think tank workers live in a rarified world that approaches the luxury of senior executives at Fortune 500 companies. Have you ever met a university professor? They work 5-10 hours a week and do nothing but complain about how tough they have it. High tech workers? Don’t get me started. Accountants, lawyers? My goodness; they’re part of the problem not the solution.
    What we need Obama to do is start to fight for the people who really need his help. If he does that, he has the intelligence and political suave to be another Roosevelt, Truman or Clinton.
    The question is, does he have the will or the courage. Nothing he has done (or even said) so far suggests he does.
    I would be delighted if he proves me wrong.

    Reply

  36. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I wonder, do McCain and Palin intend to treat all of America with the same kind of respect they are treating Alaskans? When did the Alaskan citizenry vote in a bunch of McCain operatives to run their state’s affairs?
    Perhaps Tahoe will enlighten us with a paragraph or two of shameless braying.

    Reply

  37. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Linda….
    It always makes me chuckle when you offer advice about beseeching our cowardly and criminal “representatives” to act in our best interests, and suggest we support the “candidate of our choice” with donations and support.
    It must be wonderful to live in such a bubble of faith and optimism that seems to permeate your fantasy world.
    But really Linda, has it really escaped your attention that they aren’t listening? That your donations are used for airing lies, obsfucations, excuses, and empty promises?
    The patriotic thing to do is STOP sending these lying sacks of shit our money, to stop voicing unrealistic and foolish confidences in a political system run amok, and start SCREAMING for prosecutions, punishments, and a return to representation.
    To be rather blunt, anyone trusting these criminal posturing looters in Washington is a damned fool. Have you been asleep these last eight years?

    Reply

  38. judyo says:

    The heist of the century. The final nail of the coup.

    Reply

  39. Linda says:

    I agree with most of the above except, sorry folks, it’s pretty much “yada-yada-yada.”
    We are stuck for the next four months with a lame duck President who we’ve known for years is incompetent and unable to speak the language well—surely wasn’t going to give us a Fireside chat. Just be thankful that he and his team will be kept under right reins for the next four months.
    We will soon have some kind of plan that hopefully will get the economy through the next four months. It will be far from perfect because nobody knows how to do a perfect plan, as if there is such a thing. It will have to be expanded upon, revised, and adjusted many times in the next couple of years.
    Put all this in historical perspective because 2008 is not yet 1929 or even 1932. But perhaps we are on the road back to 1933 and 1980.
    Wigwag, I don’t mean to pick on you. I think we appear to disagree so much because we actually agree so much in our thinking and probably are about the same age.
    I was six years old when FDR died. I never heard or understood a speech of FDR at the time that he gave it. I vaguely recall my parents shushing me when he was on the radio during WWII.
    Indeed the only time I recall when the whole nation listened to pretty much the same thing was the weekend of after JFK’s assassination when the three major networks all ceased commercial broadcasting. That didn’t happen even after 9/11 because by then we had cable and hundreds of networks.
    As I see it, the Bush Administration ended, for all practical purposes, last night. The most important thing is whether the next administration will be McCain-Palin or Obama-Biden. Who do you want to be giving the Inaugural Address and State of the Union address in a few months?
    So as I have suggested many times, this is a good time to donate money or a little time to work for the candidate of your choice.
    Wigwag, I know that it is hard for you to get beyond “That would be Barack Weak in the Knees Obama.” But the next President isn’t going to be FDR, Harry Truman, or Hillary or Bill Clinton.
    And just maybe with the authority, respect, and hope that goes with that office, Obama will be up to the task. On January 20, 2009, I’d love to hear an address based on FDR’s Economic Bill of Rights from his 1944 State of the Union address.

    Reply

  40. rich says:

    Nice post, Steve.
    You almost called for a some kinda ‘new deal’.
    Like a new program for economic progress by rebuilding America! Replacing all that infrastructure means a lot of public works.
    We could even call it the “Works Progress Administration,” or WPA for short.
    Kinda has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?

    Reply

  41. DonS says:

    Steve called for “a new social contract that does away with the ‘winner takes all syndrome’ that has helped rot out America’s economic promise”
    The quoted portion reminds me of the 1995 book — even before the profligate thievery of the last decade — “The Winner-Take All Society” (by R. Frank and P. Cook) whose subtitle is “How more and more Americans compete for ever fewer and bigger prizes, encouraging economic waste, income inequality, and an impoverished cultural life.”
    It might have been a thesis tentatively advanced in 1995. Today, I think we could add a few more specific phrases to indicate that the “waste” and “inequality” have become criminal, leading to the “rot” and “impoverished cultural life”.
    There is precious little time, if its even possible, for this country to avoid sinking into a total caraciture of itself.
    Politics aside (!), and imperfect as he is, Obama could take the timely opportunity to delineate the problem , differentiating himself as needed from the rubber stamp dems on Congress who are a product and symbol of a rotton system as much as anyone. Do we think the public would rally to that kind of straight talk?
    I have given my Rep — who is running unopposed and touts himself as “the 11th most effective” House memeber — some pointed messages. I hope others are so moved.

    Reply

  42. DonS says:

    What Don Bacon said above — defense spending.
    Why isn’t immediate pullout from Iraq and the $1B per day it is sucking down an immediate and obvious talking point?
    And the other military adventures and hardware — starwars?? — that imperial America has wasted.
    Time to put it all on the table. Transfer of fear-based, lobbyist-based military slush funds to civilian needs.

    Reply

  43. jon says:

    Steve, I disagree. I don’t think that Bush hit the fear button
    nearly as hard as he needed to to make a difference in what
    Congress will feel pressured to do. I tried to listen to the
    speech. It was hard, but I tried to pay attention and listen both
    for message and substance – finding little of either.
    I heard Bush blame the mess on an influx of foreign funds, and
    on folks who took out mortgages they couldn’t afford. They
    may shoulder some of the blame, but certainly not all.
    There was no focus on the creation of highly speculative
    derivative and hedge vehicles. No mention of predatory
    mortgage terms or the lack of vetting of applicants. There was
    no discussion about how things will change so this doesn’t
    happen again.
    Bush’s plan comes down to shoveling cash at the firms and
    management that got us into the mess, accepting terrible
    securities at inflated values in exchange for cash, and no
    prosecution for lawbreaking or increased regulation to avert the
    problems in the future.
    Democrats have a unique opportunity right now to craft a
    bailout that solves the problem, is fair to taxpayers, stabilizes
    the financial market, and puts on a sound footing. If they can
    pull this off they can create a perception that they are white
    knights and forge a legislative legacy, and power base, that
    rivals the success of the New Deal. Let’s see if they’re up to it.

    Reply

  44. Dan Kervick says:

    Steve, you are on target about the need for a sustained debate in this country about the deeper, systematic and structural problems with our economy. If this crisis leads to a resounding end to the neoliberal era of the past three decades, and a new era of progressive and activist government, that will be a good thing. It will take us months and years of thoughtful and wide-ranging debate to sort many of these issues out and get the restructuring right. Obviously, those are not the kinds of ideas we can expect to hear from people like Newt Gingrich, George Bush or Grover Norquist.
    But what I’m puzzled about is where you stand on the issue of the bailout itself? What is needed? What will work? What won’t work? What legislative components need to be part of the bailout package itself, and what should be left till later?

    Reply

  45. Aitch of Australia, mate. says:

    Long time reader, rare poster. I like your blog, Steve. I am an
    avid reader, but guys, enough’s enough.
    Big thanks from the rest of the world for stuffing it up for all of
    us. It’s not often you see a first world country become a laughing
    stock in two presidential terms but you’ve managed it. You used
    to be just loud and bad-mannered tourists easily distracted by
    our unique wildlife. But now you’re seriously annoying those of
    us who have our stool in a pile. You are absolutely screwed
    beyond all shadow of a doubt, with or without a bail-out
    package. This latest “Do What I Say Or Bad Things Will Happen”
    pitch from Clueless George is typical of the way America
    conducts itself on the world stage, so it should come as no
    surprise to the US populace when this club is selected from the
    bag. I know, I know, I’m preaching to the converted in this
    forum.
    Further – do you really think you’re in any position at all to be
    dictating terms to any other nations or organisations around the
    world? Every day I read “Rice warns X on Y program.”, “Cheney
    warns of consequences for X.” No-one cares. You’re being
    laughed at and not just by your enemies any more. Stop being so
    bloody useless and get it together over there.
    I’m really sorry, but tarring you all with the same brush is an act
    of a fed-up World Citizen. We’re sick of it. Lift your game. Either
    have a revolution or disappear wi

    Reply

  46. Noel says:

    problem – economic crisis brought on by loans in default
    solution – borrow another 700 Billion without and plan to repay

    Reply

  47. Jon G says:

    Well put, as usual Steve – my sentiments exactly. I was just walking Qanuk the collie up in the hills and was thinking that something just doesn’t ‘smell’ right about this whole thing. I wonder what we end up knowing one day…
    But for now, you are right about infrastructure – but you forgot to mention ENERGY – investing in a new clean energy powered economy, supported by a diversity of energy sources, gradually shifting more and more from old to new, but rooted much more in new.
    That’s an investment that will solve our energy and climate change problems, create jobs, protect public health, and put us in a much stronger national security position.
    America needs a beacon of hope right now – something positive to strive for that unifies the nation beyond crisis. A new clean energy infrastructure could and should be that thing.

    Reply

  48. Mr.Murder says:

    “In some U.S. states, including California, the writ is now called mandate instead of mandamus, and may be issued by any level of the state court system to any lower court or to any government official. It is still common for Californians to bring “taxpayer actions” against public officials for wasting public funds through mismanagement of a government agency, where the relief sought is a writ of mandate compelling the official to stop wasting money and fulfill his duty to protect the public fisc. In Virginia, the Supreme Court has “original jurisdiction” under the state constitution for mandamus involving the Virginia courts.”
    -wiki

    Reply

  49. Mr.Murder says:

    File a restraining order. Ask a judge to issue a mandamus to compel enforcement since the Executive branch is entirely corrupt.
    File them now.

    Reply

  50. Don Bacon says:

    We didn’t hear anything about cutting the obscene, needless $600b military budget in half to pay for this, either. Why does the US need billion-dollar airplanes, aircraft carriers and submarines in a “war on terror?” And why is the US military occupying two far-off countries, in a time of economic peril?

    Reply

  51. NAF Intern says:

    Steve,
    That was perfect.
    The Bush administration’s fear-mongering and lack
    of political or legal accountability is partially
    to blame for the very real and dangerous
    leadership deficit our nation faces.
    The speech today should not have simply been just
    about the financial crisis, though its importance
    cannot be understated.
    A real president — a real leader — would have
    touched on America’s need to coordinate our
    economic goals with the broader requirements of
    global economic competitiveness. This includes a
    serious devotion of resources to physical
    infrastructure development, education (vocational,
    foreign language, and science/engineering skills),
    broad healthcare reform, clearer tax law, various
    energy technologies, preemptive/defensive climate-
    change legislation, incentives to attract talent
    from abroad, and sincere anti-trust legislation.
    Yes, that would have packed the agenda, but we’ve
    come to expect far too less from our leaders. He’s
    just so damn disconnected from reality.
    He used fear to get our attention. You know
    what…fine. There are good reasons to be scared.
    But fear should be leveraged equally with honesty,
    integrity, and intelligence.
    However, Bush and the bulk of his administration
    has consistently lacked those qualities, and
    that’s what I continue to fear the most.

    Reply

  52. Carroll says:

    My common sense friends agree. Let the sobs go down. They aren’t needed. What is needed is a refinancing of the bad mortages by the government…not a financing of AIG or Lehman or the high flying boys who bought derivatives..let them eat cake…that would be good lesson to both the institutions and the investors that when there is there there you can’t sell it and if you are stupid enough to buy it then you lose.
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Sic Semper Tyrannis 2008
    (A Committee of Correspondence) « The big states and the liitle ones. | Main | Let’s see the two cabinets. »
    No Paulson bail out!
    “I think what Paulson hopes to do is say, ‘If you don’t do exactly what I want you to do, the whole world’s going to collapse on Tuesday’,” Gingrich said.
    The former Speaker, talking to reporters at a lunch, added that he expects Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) to back the plan. He predicted that, if Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) ends up opposing the administration proposal, there will be an overnight “emergence of a McCain/reform wing of the Republican Party.” The Hill
    ——————————————————————–
    Gingrich is right. He may back down, but he got it right in these statements. Paulson and Bernancke are trying to “bulldoze” the Congress and citizenry into accepting this plan. They are doing it in just the same way that the Bush Administration “bulldozed” the people and the Congress into both the Patriot Act and war against Iraq. The broadcast media are cooperating in this.
    Well… There wasn’t any Iraqi nuclear program left. There was no cooperative relationship between Saddam’s wretched government and al-Qa’ida. There will be no “end of days” if Wall street is left to stew in its own broth.
    Our friend, “WP,” wrote to suggest an alternative way of dealing with the present economic crisis. He writes that, at root, the crisis rests on the issue of defaulted and soon to be defaulted mortgages, mortgages that for the most part should not have existed. Bad credit card debt is another big piece of the problem. The huge structure of bubble debt created by unlimited trading of derivatives rests on consumer defaults. “WP” suggests directly funding the consumers so that they can pay their debts.
    Let the rest “Go South.” The worthwhile bits of the companies will be bought by other firms. The death of the rest will serve as an example for the foolish and greedy.
    American society in recent years has moved steadily in the direction of becoming one in which there are two classes, “les nobles,” and everyone else. That process will be slowed up for a few years by this disaster if the American taxpayer refuses to fund the nobles’ grandchildren’s trust funds. pl

    Reply

  53. Carroll says:

    Of course Bush pushed the ‘fear’ button. We are now a nation of fearfull ‘little’ people. I can already see people falling for this. They are thinking only of whether or not they will be able to keep their jobs or their houses in the near term…very faulty thinking.
    Let AIG and Lehman fail, there are other companies and investors who will step in and take their place. There is plenty of investor money looking for a place to go for better return than treasury notes and CDs…and if they are assured, thru regulations, that it won’t go to another ponzi fraud like AIG or Lehman they will invest and provide the necessary liquidity for lending.
    According to AP, Bloomberg and etc., the FBI is investigating AIG and Lehman for fraud and has been for sometime and congress was informed 2 weeks ago that they were under investigation. The FBI plainly said they were also going after the CEO’s of the respective companies. But here we have Paulson who wants to give payouts to the CEO’s of these companies to keep them on board to “help us out of this mess” even though they were the ones who created it and are most likely guilty of fraud!
    Can you fathom that? Can you believe that congress is even considering this? What does it tell you about Paulson that he would suggest keeping these people on and paying them anything for their criminal conduct? And he wants ‘sole” authority over what all our taxpayer money but from these two criminal institutions?
    Nope, we’re done…that congress is even considering this tells you we are toast.
    You will regret to the bitter end this bailout and when it fails and it will, the second time around will be your real nightmare.
    It is a scam, stopgap, short term measure, that’s all it is.

    Reply

  54. MarkL says:

    Steve,
    Do you still think Bush is smart, after watching this??
    He’s about Idi Amin level in brains. Amin didn’t kill as many people though.

    Reply

  55. Tahoe Editor says:

    “infrastructure” = Obama’s talking point. He should be back in Washington leading everyone in a push to make infrastructure a pillar of this “economic rescue” plan instead of saying, “Call me if you need me (and please, don’t need me, because I’m preparing for my first national security debate).”

    Reply

  56. Sheldon says:

    George Bush asked the American tax payers to bail out his billionaire buddies through the same scare tactics used to sell the Iraq war(remember the “mushroom cloud”). If anything, his speech confirms 8 years of disastrous and incompetent Republican rule. For the sake of a future not left totally bankrupt by another term of Republican rule, I hope that Barack Obama is the next president.

    Reply

  57. WigWag says:

    For those who might be interested, compare the speech Bush gave today with the speech Franklin Roosevelt gave on March 4, 1933. The content of Roosevelt’s speech is remarkably relevant to the current situation. This is a redacted version:
    “I AM certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.
    In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone…
    Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because the rulers of the exchange of mankind’s goods have failed, through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous money changers stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.
    True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of self-seekers. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
    The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit…
    Recognition of the falsity of material wealth as the standard of success goes hand in hand with the abandonment of the false belief that public office and high political position are to be valued only by the standards of pride of place and personal profit; and there must be an end to a conduct in banking and in business which too often has given to a sacred trust the likeness of callous and selfish wrongdoing. Small wonder that confidence languishes, for it thrives only on honesty, on honor, on the sacredness of obligations, on faithful protection, on unselfish performance; without them it cannot live.
    Restoration calls, however, not for changes in ethics alone. This Nation asks for action, and action now.
    Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources…
    It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes and our farms. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, State, and local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.
    Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order; there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments; there must be an end to speculation with other people’s money, and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency…
    We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it. In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.

    Reply

  58. Lurker says:

    Steven Clemons has done it again. I have screened a lot of the blogs out there and the mainstream stuff and none has as fresh and original an analysis as this.
    Thank you Steven Clemons for the hard work and originality. You are not only original I think, but you are actually correct in the comparison of Bush and 9/11 with Bush today.

    Reply

  59. Jeff Carter says:

    Steve,
    I agree that he pushed the fear button. However, I think he explained the problem in as basic terms as possible. Most people are saying “bailout”. It really is an assuming of risk. The only entity that can handle this risk carcass (mortgage and derivative securitizations) is the U.S. Govt. They are clearing the carcass off of the road. If the road is not clear, money can’t move down it and freezes up (what has been happening since last Thursday). No money = no credit. No credit = no business. We are a boom/bust economy. That is the price we pay for not being more involved in our govt. and economic structure and function. We can raise hell all day long about the mortgage paying public is taking the brunt of this. However, they were able to get 5% rates on their mortgages due to the same group of people they want to hang from the highest tree. They weren’t complaining when their house was exploding in value and saying “wait a minute, let’s take a look at why this is happening”. They would have been laughed at & told to shut up. We all rode the rocket up. Now we need our own parachute. We are not bailing out Wall Street, we are bailing out ourselves. Ask Japan how they liked it when all the banks sat on their money. That is where we are headed.
    There is no easy way to do this. I opt for let’s get this party started instead of let’s see if we can think our way out of this. Mistakes will be made, corrections will made, and we will look back at this time as a turning point in our history.
    -By the way, I am a liberal democrat who is realistic about our options.
    Thanks.

    Reply

  60. Dan Kervick says:

    While I agree with WigWag that the Democrats now have a once in a generation window of opportunity to make the case against the whole Republican philosophy of government – or maybe we should say their philosophy of non-government – I would like to resist the idea that has been floating about over the past several days that the length of that window of opportunity is just a week or two, the same time frame in which we have to do the bailout.
    Some have been arguing that we need to pack the bailout legislation with all sorts of action items on the progressive wish list. But I don’t think we can afford the kind of time it would take to load up the bill with intelligently thought-out progressive legislation on executive salaries, mortgage restructuring, public infrastructure investment, etc. Nor do I think we urgently need to pass those things within a few weeks time less we miss a window of opportunity.
    The public now totally gets it, and is seething with near-revolutionary anger about evil Wall Street fat cats, Washington lobbyist-hucksters and the stupidity of deregulation mania. They totally get it about the vulnerability of our economy to fluctuations in the price and supply of an increasingly scarce and unreliable energy resource. They totally get it about the absurdity of throwing a trillion dollars into stupid, lie-begotten military adventures in foreign countries while our own infrastructure crumbles and our cities are destroyed. They totally get the idea that the current market mechanisms that set salaries in this country are deeply dysfunctional, and wildly overcompensate some individuals, thus failing to provide the proper incentives for them to make intelligent long-term decisions.
    After the bailout is passed, there will be more than ample political energy remaining to pass necessary progressive legislation from now through the first year of the next administration. Republicans are boxed into a corner and can’t dare block this agenda.
    The danger right now is that there is a lot of populist, demagogic deception out there, and irresponsible rabble-rousing, promoting simple-minded illusions about the difference between “Wall Street” and “Main Street”. Far too many people seem to be under the impression that they have the option of letting the Wall Street financial markets crash without crashing their own local economies and businesses at the same time. While politicians are busy working on the bailout, nobody is taking enough time to explain to people how it is that their own jobs probably depend on the continued functioning of capital markets
    There seems to be general agreement that a bailout is needed, but that the Bush/Paulson proposal is no good because it and doesn’t provide for sufficient oversight and regulation, because it gives the treasury department near-dictatorial powers, and because it fails to give the taxpayers a sufficient equity stake in the institutions they are bailing out. So let’s change the bailout legislation. But could we please just get this done soon? I don’t like to fear-monger, but I beleive the situations is actually a bit urgent.
    While doing this, I don’t think we have the time for long, thoughtful systematic discourses on all of the root causes of our economic mess. Those discourses can come later.
    I don’t mind telling people that I am worried about my own job, not because things aren’t going well for me on the job – they are – but because I understand how the operations I am involved in depend on the continued capitalization of my company. Millions and millions and millions of Americans are in the same boat, and our jobs are hanging in the balance. Could we please get some action from Washington?

    Reply

  61. WigWag says:

    POA, I’m afraid you forgot one. That would be Barack Weak in the Knees Obama.

    Reply

  62. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “It’s time to kick some butt and give them hell”
    ROFLMAO!!! Harry Coward Reid and Nancy Pissy Pelosi, and Dianne Flippin’ Feinstien?
    You dreamer you.

    Reply

  63. DonS says:

    And here’e why its not going to work this time: Main Street is already hurting, or knows it in the bones that they are going to be hurting soon. And, by God, they’ll be damned if the priviledged classes aren’t going to get some pain too.
    Now whether or not Congress is really listening is another question.

    Reply

  64. PissedOffAmerican says:

    By God, screw this Palin/Biden debate business.
    Can’t we just put Bush and Palin on a stage, and watch them babble incoherantly at each other?
    Pretty please??

    Reply

  65. Mad Dogs says:

    Junya is afraid of everything. Junya has lived in fear his entire life.
    Why should we expect anything different now?

    Reply

  66. WigWag says:

    This is a brilliant post (in my opinion) that gets it exactly right. The failure of Bush to acknowledge any complicity in the current imbroglio was predictable but still disgusting. But let’s face it; we couldn’t have expected anything else.
    It really is incumbent on the Democrats to make the case that the current crisis represents a profound failure of the entire Republican governing philosophy. The current crisis makes plain the bankruptcy of the entire Reagan philosophy and its progeny.
    As I said on an earlier thread, the Democrats need to take a page out of the Republican’s play book and use the current crisis to turn Reaganism into a four letter word.
    The Democrats now have a once in a generation chance to make that case. If they blow it, it will be unconscionable.
    To do it, Democrats will need to loosen the tethers that tie them to their friends and supporters on Wall Street. Most importantly they will need to abandon the Obama “lets all get along” rhetoric. We don’t need a new kind of politics, we need politics the old fashioned way; with some gusto!
    It’s not time to make nice and it’s not time to be bipartisan. Does anyone think that’s what the Republicans would have done had the situation been reversed?
    It’s time to kick some butt and give them hell.
    Or to paraphrase Harry Truman, all Democrats need to do is tell the truth. To Republicans it will feel like hell!

    Reply

  67. Bill R. says:

    “We need to trigger real growth in the real economy with real jobs — and that’s infrastructure. We need an infrastructure commitment and a capital budget that helps make sure that some of this massive amount of money being let loose into the system actually gets some traction in rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, and telecom infrastructure.
    That was missing — and it must be part of this debate.”
    You nailed it, Steve. Infrastructure, infrastructure, infrastructure. This is where all that investment should have gone, instead of into the real estate bubble.

    Reply

  68. Jeff Steele says:

    Yes, he’s pushed the nuclear button and 9/11 has again, in less than the space of two weeks, been invoked. Chicken Little? (Islamabad)
    Let McCain and Obama return tommorrow. Heck, let them hold the debate in the Congress, with the President, Paulson, Bernanke et all in attendance. I’d like to see that.

    Reply

  69. DonS says:

    See, this is why I intentionally didn’t watch Bush. Boooooooooo. The fear card. Sicko.
    Now, for the denouement. The American people giving Bush the raspberry: “Thanks, but no thanks”.
    Fool me once, or twice, or thrice . . . etc.

    Reply

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