Democrats & Liberals Archives

Strange Bedfellows & the Other Vote

Some kind of “bailout” is sadly probably necessary. But what a monumental disappointment did our Senate turn out to be yesterday. And then there was that other questionable bill which was passed by an even larger margin.

Though I've not read the 400+ pages of the rescue package, and I'm far from an economist, this thing smells awful. I find myself agreeing with some of the most conservative Republicans, and less surprisingly with the more liberal democrats. Where is any real oversight? How can making a 700 Billion Dollar bill, MORE expensive possibly be an improvement.

There may be real reasons that it wouldn't work, but I've wondered why not follow the suggestion I've heard to constrain the Treasury Secretary to use moneys in the way that Warren Buffet did, with strings attached to protect the taxpayers' investment.

What is obvious is that the Senate appended all sorts of provisions onto this thing specifically designed to tempt holdouts in the House to vote for it, without fundamentally changing the nature of the bailout portion of the bill from that which failed in the House on Monday. Where is the help for the homeowners whose homes are at risk? Is this not the very definition of moral hazard?

True fiscal conservatives have to hate this for its sheer expense and riskiness.
Progressives have to hate this for its failure to address the underlying inequities and deregulation which led to this casino capitalism.
Senators up for reelection in close contests have to be frightened to support such an anti-populist message in the middle of a tough campaign.

Of course, a lot of the YES votes dislike much about the bill, but felt the consequences of inaction to be far worse. Why could they not come up with a better alternative? Shame on Obama and McCain for being so uncreative.

Let's take a look at the 25 NO votes

Dems not in the middle of tough reelection campaigns:

Cantwell (D-WA)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Feingold (D-WI)
Nelson (D-FL)
Sanders (I-VT) (caucuses with Dems)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Wyden (D-OR)

I'm pretty confident that Dorgan, Feingold, Sanders, Tester, and Wyden cast no votes based on principle, while one could argue that the others were looking somewhat to how this vote might be used in future elections.

Allard (R-CO)
Barrasso (R-WY)
Brownback (R-KS)
Bunning (R-KY)
Cochran (R-MS)
Crapo (R-ID)
DeMint (R-SC)
Enzi (R-WY)
Roberts (R-KS)
Sessions (R-AL)
Shelby (R-AL)
Vitter (R-LA)

Most of these are sincere fiscal conservatives, who I suspect are genuinely disgusted with the bailout.

Senators on either side of the aisle who are up for reelection and aren't shoo-ins:
Dole (R-NC)
Inhofe (R-OK)
Johnson (D-SD)
Landrieu (D-LA)
Wicker (R-MS)

Here I am most suspicious of Dole and Landrieu who seem ordinarily inclined to take compromise mainstream positions, but face tough challenges this November.

Among the YES voters, I'm sure many felt better alternatives simply could not be agreed to in time to stop the bleeding, and honestly I don't know whether to hope for this version to pass or fail. If it does fail, I hope Congress stays in session until something better passes.

But there was another bill the Senate passed yesterday, opening the door for trade of nuclear material and technology with India, without requiring them to sign the non-proliferation treaty (NPT). Bush has been pushing for passage of such a bill for a long time. It is a complex bill which claims to include safeguards against India's using its advantages to promote its nuclear weapons program. Many are skeptical those safeguards are meaningful, because India already has nuclear weapons AND is a stubborn non-signatory to the NPT.

Byron Dorgan of North Dakota was incredulous:

This bill "will almost certainly expand the production of nuclear weapons by India" and help dismantle the architecture of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the global agreement that provides civilian nuclear trade in exchange for a pledge from nations not to pursue nuclear weapons.

Only 13 Senators - all Democrats - voted against it.

As I have paid attention to votes in the Senate, Dorgan has definitely joined Wisconsin's Russ Feingold as one who impresses me as consistently sharp and principled. I am puzzled by the extent to which the Democrats continue to let the lame duck Bush administration with its abysmal approval ratings push them around.

Posted by Walker Willingham at October 2, 2008 12:28 PM
Comment #265602

Monumental disappointment indeed Walker.
Their vote for this, gets my vote against them in return.

Posted by: kctim at October 2, 2008 2:58 PM
Comment #265610

They didn’t name it the Reagan Revolution just for the hell of it.

The government isn’t taking over Wall Street, Wall Street is taking over the government. Why shouldn’t they take over the government? After all, they payed the politicians for it.

Walker: The liberals aren’t letting Bush push them around. They have been working in colusion with him for most of his term.

Ronald Reagan castrated the liberals more than two decades ago. They just want you to think that Bush is pushing them around and that just as soon as you vote them back into power, they will get their gonads back.

You will soon find out that the liberals plan to rule from the center-right. It won’t be exactly what Wall Street, the corporations, the FED and investors want but, it will be pretty damn close.

Of course, some of it is contingent on Obama getting elected. The liberals are crowing right now because of this election suprise. This bill might have extended over into October but, the October suprise may be still to come.

If the October suprise is still to come and it is of a military nature, the liberals may have to pretend that McCain is pushing them around.

Posted by: jlw at October 2, 2008 3:42 PM
Comment #265635

The passage of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 bill by the Senate last night was most revealing.
So too was John McCain’s interview on the Morning Joe program.
When asked directly by Mika Brzezinski on why he voted yea in favor of the bill if it was loaded with “pork barrel” spending, he eluded the question.
Here’s why John McCain eluded the question.
The “pork barrel spending” in the bill is in truth “legalized bribes” to buy senators’ votes that opposed the bill, and both presidential candidates voted for it.
If any ordinary citizen bribes a public official, he faces incarceration.
If legislators bribe each other at the cost of taxpayers, they get a pass.

Congressional hearings on the bailout proposal should have included testimonies from qualified and well-respected economists, and aired for public consumption.
Behind-the-scenes input casts doubt on such input.
President Bush, Paulson, Bernanke, Cox, Congressional Committee members, legislators, and the American people would have been well-served and enlightened by such testimonies.

Here’s my view on the bailout proposal: they want the taxpayer to lend them money to pump cash liquidity into the financial system, so that the taxpayer can borrow their own money to purchase whatever, and on top of that, pay them interest in return for using the taxpayers’ own money to do business.
With that same money, they plan to save those that were either unscrupulous or just plain careless.
How is that helping the taxpayer?

Posted by: Steve Johnson at October 2, 2008 6:49 PM
Comment #265740

Walker, good article.
Moral Hazard. Their unbelievably shameless use of the term I consider gag-worthy.

The actual Moral Hazard is the caste system (often hereditary) of Corporate America which controls American politics from the local to the federal level, and is the complete opposite of real American Democracy. The United States of Corporate America means that We the People will continue to be perpetually robbed in order to ensure that the needs and desires of the wealthy will always be taken care of no matter what, while the rest of us get nothing at all.

Posted by: Veritas Vincit at October 3, 2008 4:10 PM
Comment #265765

I’m tired of the bickering and stalemating government. If you’re an encumbent (rep, dem, or something else) you’ve lost my vote. At this point, a complete and frequent change-out of the government elite is the only option.

Posted by: troy at October 3, 2008 8:13 PM
Comment #265766

Some of the news reports have indicated that Congress added a ton of pork to the bailout bill.

* Is there a list, by name, of the culprits?

* Do we know the amounts of pork each one put into it?

* Does anyone know where to go for such information?

* How might that information be publicly announced?

Posted by: Marysdude at October 3, 2008 8:14 PM
Comment #265768

Ya’ll might want to read this over…

by Darrell L. Castle
Constitution Party 2008 Vice Presidential Candidate

Sorry, I don’t have a link.

Posted by: Marysdude at October 3, 2008 8:20 PM
Comment #265783

Think this is the link you’re referring to dude.

Posted by: janedoe at October 3, 2008 10:14 PM
Comment #265793

Walker, this the reason for the old addage that legislation and sausage making are the two processes you don’t want to see.

It was unfortunate that the Senate felt compelled to bribe House Republicans to pass this Stabilization Act. In hindsight, it now appears the Stabilization would have passed without the added bill or the earmarks. But that is hindsight. The leadership recognized they could not afford to have this bill go down in defeat again; time had run out. They went for the insurance.

Real political reform and ethics rules with teeth are required. I just somehow don’t see that any more forthcoming from Democrats than it was from Republicans when they had all the power. Power seeks on goal above all others, keeping power. And in that myopic preoccupation, the Dems and Reps always manage to lose it again to each other.

Political Parties are what is broken in America, and its the political parties who control government. Therefore, it is no surprise our government is also broken, is it?

Posted by: David R. Remer at October 3, 2008 11:43 PM
Comment #265796

>Political Parties are what is broken in America, and its the political parties who control government. Therefore, it is no surprise our government is also broken, is it?
Posted by: David R. Remer at October 3, 2008 11:43 PM

David R,

It would be pretty hard to uphold the Constitution without political parties…wouldn’t it…how to hold an election without some sort entity to organize it?



Posted by: Marysdude at October 4, 2008 2:15 AM
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