September 28, 2008: The Big Bailout Circus has the nation in stitches. Taxpayers are being sewn into a skin-tight forever suit by an amazingly bipartisan group of government clowns. But despite the agreement about the need for a slap dash redo of the U.S. financial system-- and by extension our political system-- the designing bozos disagree about details. And none can resist an occasional hit of the rubber chicken...
“This sucker WILL go down” fumes President Bush as he yanks the zipper on John Q's paycheck.
“Further than your approval ratings?” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is quick with the chicken.
Bap! The right hits back with a ref to the toilet numbers of Democrat-controlled Congress.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson needs that toilet. In exchange for Dem support for the bailout flush, Nancy-with-the-laughing-face and Rep Barney Frank demanded, among other things, an affordable housing slush fund. Frank was ready to cram the cash into the baggy pants of assorted “non-profit” clowns. The Volkswagon headed for Mortgage Fraud City is already packed. HUD has made a mega taxpayer contribution* via billions in emergency Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds that local pols and players can use to buy foreclosed properties. Slum fun will be had by all. Except the poor. Who luckily, are always with us. Dumb luck? Or systemic corruption and chuckle headed housing policy?
Never never forget that HUD spelled backwards is DUH.
Thuk! Another rubber chicken comes down. Republican clowns in Congress kill the Big Bailout slush fund, fearing non-profits would use it to get out the Dem vote by any means necessary. The cut is part of the Republican's price for agreeing to indenture U.S. taxpayers to global markets.
Honk-a-dollar! The team of Mac N' Cheese, aka John McCain and Barack Obama, tumbles into the ring. Each carries a comic valentine for Average Americans. Sometimes called “Folks”. Both guys do a killer routine of cautious caution re the Big Bailout. Both tinker toy with the master plan, albeit in different ways. (Though both agree on the big easy-- sock greedy CEOs.) Neither presidential candidate sez dump it Dano, let's start from scratch. Profiles in courage are so yesterday. Another yesterday thing: Dubya beating the imminent disaster drum. By the time the ballyhooed profits for taxpayers from the bailout prove as imaginary as WMD, Dubya will be back at the ranch. Rounding up memorabilia for yet another presidential museum.
Big Bailout urgency is also drum boogied by the majority of the mainstream press. Dubya is dirt in the eye of most media beholders but taxpayer revolts (except when directed at military spending) are a beam. A nip and tuck of the Bailout is acceptable if done by the same crew who didn't flag the housing bubble or its derivative trash and who've been consistently wrong about how to fix the aftermath. But please, no meddling by the peanut gallery. Or for that matter, by the myriad economists and financial experts who spotted the bad moon rising years ago and issued countless warnings. Few of which got much coverage. Though predictions of non-stop home value appreciation from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) got the gospel choir. Vested interest, much? Speaking of the NAR--
In September, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the NAR, addressed a gaggle of regional Realtors in Saratoga Springs, New York. Whee! Yun thinks the federal read taxpayer takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will make it easier for prospective homebuyers to get mortgages. (Fannie and Freddie incidentally, are currently under investigation for fraud by the FBI.) But Yun is ticked off at the NAR's former news media pals-- and at Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. Yun sez both have been spreading “negativity”** about the housing market and scaring off buyers. Yun even bapped Ben with a letter saying Ben's bad mouth was “inappropriate”. Cause people “react to that”. He'd also like to make Alan Greenspan stick to housing happy talk. Alas. Not much can be done on that front. The X Fed head is beyond the reach of Yun's rubber chicken. Though Greenspan hasn't escaped seeing his rep go down in flames. Immolated by exploding ARMs.
Meanwhile, back at the Big Bailout Circus, the audience is getting restless. Feet are being stamped and popcorn boxes thrown. Pow! Wham! How long before the amazingly bi-partisan rage of Average Americans (sometimes called “Folks”) erupts into the ring?
Carola Von Hoffmannstahl-Solomonoff
*Help is On the way, Center for American Progress, 07/21/08
**Realtors given some reason for optimisim, Chris Churchill, Albany Times Union, 09/16/08
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