Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and members of Congress clashed on Tuesday over the best use for the $700-billion financial bailout fund, with lawmakers demanding money to stem a national wave of mortgage foreclosures.Yes, shockingly, it turns out that the former executive of Goldman Sachs is more inclined to pour out the federal largesse on well-connected banksters than on Joe the Unwisely Mortgaged Plumber. Who would have suspected it? Apparently not our Congresscreatures, who clearly think the best of everyone.
At a House of Representatives Financial Services Committee hearing where he was grilled over his handling of the program, Paulson said the bailout plan wasn't "a panacea for all our economic difficulties" and would be more effectively used by investing in financial companies to shore up the system.
But how sharply disappointed they are! Check out Baaohw-ney Fwank:
Rep. Barney Frank, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the panel, lectured Paulson, telling him mortgage relief was spelled out as an option under the bailout passed by Congress.Equally devastating is the realization that the financial "industry" is in line for all the swill it can eat, but other industries -- not so much:
"The fundamental policy issue is our disappointment that funds are not being used out of the $700 billion to supplement mortgage foreclosure reduction," Frank said. "There, I believe, is an overwhelmingly ... powerful set of reasons why some of the ... money must be used for mortgage foreclosure."
Paulson was also pressed about possibly tapping bailout funds to help distressed U.S. automakers but again ruled that out. He said any solution for automakers, who are pressing their case in Congress on Tuesday, should be one that helped them to re-tool to make more energy-efficient vehicles, and that wasn't what the bailout fund was set up to do.
Well, Illustrious Representatives and Senators, it is true that Lurch is pretty much telling you to go get bent. I have to ask you, though: what did you expect? I can't say it any better than Slacktivist did:
When in the course of human events a purportedly democratic official demands that the people give him $700,000,000,000 -- no strings attached, by week's end, or else -- then the duly elected representatives of the people have one and only one responsible response: Say "No."You know, I don't think our Congressfolk are stupid. In fact, I daresay they average a good bit more intelligent than does Homo Americanus as a whole. For that reason, I have to suspect that all the "outrage" faced by Lurch Paulson today was highly synthetic in nature. I suspect it would be fair to characterize it as posturing. As I suggested a while back, there is much about the unfolding meltdown of Mammon that yields nicely to a good old-fashioned Bolshie class analysis. Hey, I don't like Commies either ... but even a blind squirrel finds the occasional acorn.
Better yet, say "Hell no."
$700 billion. Seven hundred billion dollars. Dollar sign, seven, 11 zeroes.
Seven. Hundred. Billion.
You could never count to 700,000,000,000. You could never count to 700,000,000,000 by thousands.
If you were to take $700,000,000,000 in $100 bills and lay them end-to-end, well, it might turn out to be a better use of the money than if you just gave all those bills to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson in exchange for nothing more than his promise to put all that money to good use if we'd all just leave him alone.