Who’s Party Is This Anyway?

This segment from The Rachel Maddow Show Monday night was illuminating. If you’re a Democrat you know who to blame when things go wrong — Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. For good or for bad, the buck often stops with them. Lord knows I find Harry Reid especially maddening. But this recent vote that doomed the bailout was an eye-opener about who “the man” in the Republican Party.

It’s not John McCain, whose campaign suspension to get to “work” in Washington, D.C. resolved nothing. Or Rep. John Boehner, the minority leader in the House who took his coalition to the floor on a prayer that they had the votes only to find they did not. And it’s definitely not President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney who could no longer Billy Goat Gruff the freepers into submission.

Politico.com is running a host of stories on what a death knell this could be for McCain, Boehner and the progressively lamer than lame duck presidency of George W. Bush.

Boehner’s story was actually sad to me. While I typically abhor the man, I even moreso hated how the man before him, Texan Tom DeLay. DeLay bullied, lied, emasculated, double-crossed, threatened and beat down any Republican who dared to air a different opinion. Boehner retired the wrath of The Hammer, but his reluctance to be a blood-thirsty, crooked orge didn’t help him in this debacle.

From the beginning, Boehner has let his members do what they want. He campaigned for the top job by telling Republicans he would not lean on them as his predecessor, former Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, was wont to do.

But that long leash has been problematic at times — never, though, like it was on Monday.

Democrats were quick to dance on Boehner’s grave on Monday — even though some of the Republicans who could someday replace him might be less gracious in negotiations than he has been.

“I guess the Republican leadership is so weak John Boehner couldn’t deliver 50 percent of the votes,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-Wis.) told a scrum of reporters shortly after the vote. “I thought these were big boys.”

It’s understandable to be frustrated with Pelosi, who despite delivering two-thirds of her contingency couldn’t sign on some of members of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus. But she only promised half on a bill proposed by a Republican president and individuals appointed through a Republican administration. To get two-thirds of Democrats to even touch something with eau de toilette de Bush on it is an accomplishment in itself. But to have Republicans balk on their once infallible leader who is still popular amongst their constituents (if you believe the polls) says something profound.

And think of McCain, the man who wants to succeed Bush. He bet the most on this gamble and lost. Now he’s in the midst of digging himself out of a potential political grave, declaring he will not be undone by his own doing.

Reluctant Republicans ignored Sen. John McCain, undermining the Republican presidential nominee’s efforts to cast himself as a problem-solving legislative leader … (I)t was the House Republicans, whose support McCain had returned to Washington to seek, who drove a stake through the bill’s heart: Two-thirds of the Republicans voted against the bill; nearly two-thirds of the Democrats voted for it.

The failure to pass the measure, and the commensurate historic drop in stock prices around the world, overshadowed the presidential campaign, as it has for a week, and swamped McCain’s attempts to turn the conversation toward a more general argument about taxes and spending. The election remains squarely situated on the economy, turf on which polls suggest McCain is far less trusted than Obama.

Now McCain wants to call the publicly unpopular “bailout” of Wall Street a “rescue,” but I don’t think nomenclature is the problem. From day one, the administration has been reluctant to take this crisis seriously or even admit there is a crisis. Then, on a dime, they turn from “there’s nothing to see here, ma’am” to “EVERYBODY PANIC!” It’s only natural people would be skeptical, wondering what was the rush. The Patriot Act was rushed. The war in Iraq was rushed. Americans have routinely been told to panic then rush towards the benevolent leader’s guidance and to never doubt him or his followers.

Now even the once “true believers” are looking twice. Of course the public is balking.

Other than Bush’s pathetic doom and gloom prime time speech, no one has explained anything. No one understands the magnitude of the crisis or how acting (or not acting) would affect the average voter. I’m a regular follower of politics and I don’t understand. I’ve read all sorts of materials and I’m not sure what’s the right thing to do. But I do know my votes and my tax dollars are based in my reluctant faith on Congress, the White House and the federal government to catch a clue and find a way to fix this thing other than picking the second largest sum they could guess and asking the taxpayers to fund it (via China).

If Bush, McCain and Boehner can’t convince their own party of the severity how can they convince a “fool me once, fool me twice” public?

7 thoughts on “Who’s Party Is This Anyway?

  1. I hate being confused. I have Business class and AP Human Geo. back to back, and my teachers have totally opposite views on the bailout. My business teacher thinks this is absolutely necessary; my human geo teacher is entirely skeptical and thinks its unnecessary.Today I was closer in my opinion to my business teacher, so I was in almost entire disagreement with my human geo. teacher. I’m in highschool, so this almost entirely goes over my head, but this plan seems every bit necessary. I mean losing $1.2 trillion dollars in 6 1/2 hours? that’s crazy. My human geo. teacher hates the bill, thinks its socialism, blames the Dems. But even though the plan sucks, everyone has already acknowledged they don’t want to vote for it, and it really seems like the least crappy of the other crappy options. I mean if some Republican/Democrat has some kind of alternate plan, why won’t they say something?

  2. Mama always said federal bailouts were like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get. I don’t understand why we’re taking this route. Why don’t we just loan Wall Street companies the money? We can we just play the banks at their own game, instead of buying up all those toxic mortgage-back securities. We, the people, should say the banks: “You need some real fast doe to tide you over? Well, oh my, just step into our nice, comfortable office and grab yourself a seat and we’ll get you started on some paperwork. You know, you’re in luck today because we have a very low introductory interest rate of 3.2 percent on our loans, and the rate isn’t going up till next year. We even beat that Ditech guy’s rates. By next year, the economy will be doing a whole lot better, and you’ll be doing fine too, so you don’t have to worry anything. What do these terms mean? Oh, that’s just some fine print legalese in the contract. You don’t have to worry about that either. Just some boilerplate language the attorneys make us put in. Nothing to worry about. You want me to explain it to you? Well, it only says that next year your interest rate will reach a new increment of 18.5. Again, that’s typical in contracts like these. It’s not that important. You can sign it now and look it over later.” Seriously, why are we doing buyouts? Again, I’m not an economist, but this bailout plan looks more like a payoff than a loan. It seems as though the federal government is purchasing bad properties in the form of these lousy securities. A long time ago we gave Chrysler a 1.2 billion loan when it was on the verge of bankruptcy, and the company survived and paid off the loan earlier than expected. We should do what we did in this case. Why should we be the suckers in all of this? My brother used to have a bumper sticker years ago which read. ” It’s either Ass, Cash or Grass. No one gets a ride for free. And neither should Wall Street.

  3. ‘wahhhh…Nancy was mean to us”waaahhh..we’re going to let the economy go to shit because Nancy was mean to us’Bunch of punk ass bitches, that what the GOP House members are.

  4. obama:change – mccain:reformobama:bailout – mccain:rescueobama:american people – mccain:my friendssomeone should get mccain and thesaurus and explain to him how to use it properly…

  5. Hi Danielle, Once again, your blog is great!I enjoy reading it for both the pictures and your thoughtful commentary. I am writing in response to your comment:”I’m a regular follower of politics and I don’t understand. I’ve read all sorts of materials and I’m not sure what’s the right thing to do. But I do know my votes and my tax dollars are based in my reluctant faith on Congress, the White House and the federal government to catch a clue and find a way to fix this thing other than picking the second largest sum they could guess and asking the taxpayers to fund it (via China).”Yes included in this package is raising the national debt to $12 trillion, and borrowing the money from China!Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D, Ohio) in a short message to his supporters explains why he is NOT voting for the bail-out package, and why it is NOT expected to work. Rep. Kucinich, who is no longer a Presidential candidate, can speak his mind, because he is not, sad to say, indebted to Wall St., the way Obama is, to the tune of millions of dollars:=========================09/30/08The Bailout and What’s NextDear Friend,Yesterday marked a day that will go down in history, when Congressional Democrats and Republicans alike took on full responsibility to protect the interests of taxpaying Americans, and defeated the deceptive bail out bill, defying the dictates of the Administration, the House Majority Leadership, the House Minority Leadership and the special interests on Wall Street.Obviously Congress must consider quickly another course. There are immediate issues which demand attention and responsible action by the Congress so that the taxpayers, their assets, and their futures are protected.We MUST do something to protect millions of Americans whose homes, bank deposits, investments, and pensions are at risk in a financial system that has become seriously corrupted. We are told that we must stabilize markets in order for the people to be protected. I think we need to protect peoples’ homes, bank deposits, investments, and pensions, to order to stabilize the market.We cannot delay taking action. But the action must benefit all Americans, not just a privileged few. Otherwise, more plans will fail, and the financial security of everyone will be at risk.The $700 billion bailout would have added to our existing unbearable load of national debt, trade deficits, and the cost of paying for the war. It would have been a disaster for the American public and the government for decades and maybe even centuries to come.To be sure, there are many different reasons why people voted against the bailout. The legislation did not regard in any meaningful way the plight of millions of Americans who are about to lose their homes. It did nothing to strengthen existing regulatory structures or impose new ones at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Federal Reserve in order to protect investors. There were no direct protections for bank depositors. There was nothing to stop further speculation, which is what brought us into this mess in the first place.This was a bailout for some firms (and investors) on Wall Street, with the idea that in doing so there would be certain, unspecified, general benefits to the economy.This is a perfect time to open a broader discussion about our financial system, especially our monetary system. Such a discussion is like searching for a needle in a haystack, and then, upon finding it, discussing its qualities at great length. Let me briefly describe the haystack instead.Here is a very quick explanation of the $700 billion bailout within the context of the mechanics of our monetary and banking system:The taxpayers loan money to the banks. But the taxpayers do not have the money. So we have to borrow it from the banks to give it back to the banks. But the banks do not have the money to loan to the government. So they create it into existence (through a mechanism called fractional reserve) and then loan it to us, at interest, so we can then give it back to them.Confused?This is the system. This is the standard mechanism used to expand the money supply on a daily basis not a special one designed only for the “$700 billion” transaction. People will explain this to you in many different ways, but this is what it comes down to.The banks needed Congress’ approval. Of course in this topsy turvy world, it is the banks which set the terms of the money they are borrowing from the taxpayers. And what do we get for this transaction? Long term debt enslavement of our country. We get to pay back to the banks trillions of dollars ($700 billion with compounded interest) and the banks give us their bad debt which they cull from everywhere in the world.Who could turn down a deal like this? I did.The globalization of the debt puts the United States in the position that in order to repay the money that we borrow from the banks (for the banks) we could be forced to accept International Monetary Fund dictates which involve cutting health, social security benefits and all other social spending in addition to reducing wages and exploiting our natural resources. This inevitably leads to a loss of economic, social and political freedom.Under the failed $700 billion bailout plan, Wall Street’s profits are Wall Street’s profits and Wall Street’s losses are the taxpayers’ losses. Profits are capitalized. Losses are socialized.We are at a teachable moment on matters of money and finance. In the coming days and weeks, I will share with you thoughts about what can be done to take us not just in a new direction, but in a new direction which is just.Thank you,Dennis==============================Rep. Kucinich also discussed the problems with the bailout bill during an appearance on Democracy Now, in which he commented:“Is this the United States Congress or the Board of Directors of Goldman Sachs?” http://www.democracynow.org/2008/9/29/is_this_the_united_states_congressAnother of my heroes, Michael Moore, also came out against the $700 billion bailout of Wall St”The Rich are Staging a Coup Right Now!”http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/100749/the_rich_are_staging_a_coup_right_now/For me, the bottom line is that $700 billion is not going to be enough to stabilize Wall St. and avoid a depression. I’ve heard from experts that there is 16 TRILLION in “credit default swaps” still outstanding. It is the “credit default swaps” which I’m told brought down the insurance company, AIG, which was otherwise sound. Please call your senators and representatives and tell them to vote NO!Our country is in big trouble. We are already spending $40 billion / month of borrowed Chinese money to pay for a war in Iraq based on lies! The $700 billion bail out bill will only make our problems WORSE!

  6. Call me crazy but I think the Republicans voting down the bail out the first time around was a sign of health in American democracy. I agree that their mutiny showed McCain is not a strong leader in the party but hasn’t he been struggling for support in his own party all along? I don’t know who Maddox is on MSNBC or whatever the station is called but her definition of leadership within political parties is borderline dictatorial. I have more faith in the process that the Republicans voted against their leaders “better judgment”.

  7. anonymous 7:33 am: Actually, I think Maddow’s point was that the Republicans traditionally have run their party and their members like a top down dictatorship and have prided in it. I was happy to see the House Republicans developing a spine because for the past seven-and-a-half-years they have not had much of one. So I think she was poking fun in the fact that any signs of cracks in the Republican coalition is a refutation of their claim of unity and Bush’s once indomitable power to control his party.The Democrats are routinely mocked for being a little all over the place with so many different coalitions under their tent and differing views. As often repeated by Dems: “I’m not a member of an organized political party. I’m a Democrat.”So this is REALLY uncommon for Republicans as they are the “royalist” party where there is a fearless leader and everyone is expect to follow said leader even if he takes them off a cliff, a la Bush.

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