Thursday, October 02, 2008
Hold your nose and swallow . . .
. . . seems to be the attitude in the Senate, which passed the "sweetened" bailout bill yesterday by a wide margin. It's now getting kicked back to the House, and the hope is that the "sweeteners" - which include raising the FDIC insurance cap and various tax breaks, reliefs, and extensions - will bring more House Republicans on board (though possibly driving away an equal number of Democrats) to get it passed. Some of these sweeteners, by themselves, might be a good idea (others, like a provision to force health care providers to treat mental health issues the same way they do physical problems, stink of pork); that doesn't mean the bill is any more palatable. It still saddles taxpayers with the most risky debt owned by financial institutions, hopes - doesn't guarantee - that we'll recoup that debt in five years, and gives the federal government ownership stakes in these institutions that it's not likely to give up once the crisis passes. Oh, and now the bill will cost more than the original $700 billion requested. At this point I'd be very surprised if the new bill doesn't pass in the House; and once it does, and the president signs it into law, I fear we'll look back on that day and mark it as one where this country gave up a big piece of what makes it American.