Given the discussion in the previous bailout thread, and really all over the blogosphere, what I am about to say might sound strange to you. However, that doesn't make it any less accurate:
No, I don't need to release a comprehensive bailout strategy for the financial sector. And neither do you. After the last two days, it just isn't relevant anymore.
More in the extended entry.
|Here is the current situation we face:
Given that I am a blogger living in West Philly, and that the people reading this post are probably something similar, it was always tenuous, at best, to claim that we should be sitting around debating the finer points of our individual proposals for the bailout of the financial sector. The people who make the specific policies simply are not listening to us. The best we could always hope for was getting some broad message across, like "make sure some of that money goes to homeowners," "don't pass the bill," "stop the bonuses" or "nationalize it." The bonus tax fight last week was the final, rear-guard action that had any chance of improving the bailout. However, the Senate stalled the bonus tax, and so now the bailout is a done deal.
- No more bailout funds will ever be approved through Congress. With the latest announcement that bailout funding is out of the budget, the last route for Congress to approve more bailout money is now closed. At this point, we might as well talk about how to manage the sale of marijuana after it is legalized during the Obama administration. More congressional-approved bailout funds and legalized weed have about the same chance of happening.
- The bailout strategy is out the door. While it is fun to sit around and play a game of "Senior Obama Economic Advisor," the truth is that the bailout plan was announced yesterday, already sold to Wall Street, and is now out the door. The plan is a done deal. It ain't gonna be undone until the money is spent.
- There is no back-up bailout plan for the Obama administration. Today, when asked what he would do if his current bailout strategy failed, Geithner replied that there is no backup plan. Que no hay plan de copia de seguridad! And that makes sense, too. Since they ain't gonna get any more money from Congress, and since they are going to spend what they have on this plan, then there can't be a backup plan. This is it.
I'm not saying the policy discussions were useless. However, after the events of the last couple of days, they have been downgraded from a longshot attempt to influence policy, and have now become pure intellectual masturbation. At this point, we are not going to stop, or change, the bailout plan. And there won't be another congressionally approved bailout, either. Those wads have been shot.
The time when wonky discussions of bailout plans have any utility to the broader debate is over. Geithner's continued role in the administration was seriously questioned. Nationalization got a lot of talk. These ideas got into the mainstream, even if they didn't happen. If the current bailout plan works, then great, we are all saved. If it doesn't work, we made it clear that there was an alternative.
At this point, we need to refocus the discussion toward the future. We need to keep the anger at Wall Street high. We need to keep demanding more transparency and regulations. And we need to help pass President Obama's budget, now that it doesn't include anymore bailout funds. That is what is relevant now. My opinion on the fifteen steps needed to improve the bailout simply is not.