Everyone with an opinion hates the government takeover of the financial system thing. Conservatives hate it because it makes a mockery of capitalism, liberals hate it because they knew capitalism was a mockery to begin with but do they really have to have it shoved in their faces that way, and the only ones who support it are the spineless wimps who just got really scared when some briefer told them the Dow might fall 22%. Those people, Barack Obama included, are, I think we can all agree, pussies.* Which is why I invite you to take a gander at an the angry rant of a supposed anonymous F-bomb wielding Democratic member of Congress about the "petty, childish and completely in character" things he/she would like to do to the likes of Lehman CEO Dick Fuld and Countrywide's Angelo Mozilo and the "dumber than Sarah Palin" Democratic legislator who won't get them done.
Paulsen and congressional Republicans, or the few that will actually vote for this (most will be unwilling to take responsibility for the consequences of their policies), have said that there can't be any "add ons," or addition provisions. Fuck that. I don't really want to trigger a world wide depression (that's not hyperbole, that's a distinct possibility), but I'm not voting for a blank check for $700 billion for those mother fuckers. Nancy said she wanted to include the second "stimulus" package that the Bush Administration and congressional Republicans have blocked. I don't want to trade a $700 billion dollar giveaway to the most unsympathetic human beings on the planet for a few fucking bridges. I want reforms of the industry, and I want it to be as punitive as possible. Henry Waxman has suggested corporate government reforms, including CEO compensation, as the price for this. Some members have publicly suggested allowing modification of mortgages in bankruptcy, and the House Judiciary Committee staff is also very interested in that. That's a real possibility. We may strip out all the gives to industry in the predatory mortgage lending bill that the House passed last November, which hasn't budged in the Senate, and include that in the bill. There are other ideas on the table but they are going to be tough to work out before next week. I also find myself drawn to provisions that would serve no useful purpose except to insult the industry, like requiring the CEOs, CFOs and the chair of the board of any entity that sells mortgage related securities to the Treasury Department to certify that they have completed an approved course in credit counseling. That is now required of consumers filing bankruptcy to make sure they feel properly humiliated for being head over heels in debt, although most lost control of their finances because of a serious illness in the family. That would just be petty and childish, and completely in character for me.
But, sigh, s/he is not very hopeful.
Here's the industry's play: progressives will approach Nancy with ideas for reform, and she'll agree to push for their proposals, and she'll really mean it. Then industry lobbyists will go to Dennis Moore, Melissa Bean and a few other Democrats, and tell them how dire the consequences of the proposals would be, and that the members who understand how the economy works need to step up to stop Nancy and the crazy liberals from doing something rash. Then those Democrats will go to Steny and tell him how terrible Nancy's crazy ideas would be, and how we can't rush into something like that without much, much more thought. Maybe Barney will try to talk to Dennis or Melissa, but it will become apparent quickly that they have no idea what they're talking about; they're just repeating by rote what the lobbyists told them to say. Melissa may actually be dumber than Sarah Palin. Barney will realize he might as well talk to the lobbyists directly and save a step. The lobbyists will agree to something inconsequential, but certainly nothing that would really affect the industry's conduct. Then the leadership will do the math and conclude that because the vast majority of Republicans will vote against any bill, we can't get enough votes without the Dennis and Melissa crowd. The only way, our leadership will conclude, to get anything at all passed is to include nothing more than the inconsequential proposals that the lobbyists agreed to. Then we'll all go along because it would be wildly irresponsible not to act when we're staring over the brink of a complete collapse of world financial markets. I'd diagram it for you if I had a chalkboard. I've seen the play again and again, and it always goes for long yardage.
Hey, you know what it reminds me of? That bank where everyone who wanted to get rid of those terrible CDOs got fired or demoted because it was easier to do things the way they'd always done them than face the ugly truth — plus it's not like anyone really understood any of that shit anyway! Which is to say basically all of them. Sorta makes you want to short-sell the whole fucking democratic process! Too bad the SEC outlawed it. OpenLeft
*On the train over the weekend I spoke to a banker who pointed out, "Bottom line is that China's stock market has fallen 60% this year, our market falls 20% and we suspend capitalism. Guess they're more committed to it than us. And the truth is, when you explain away all the asterisks you'd have to qualify on that statement for it to be true, that capitalism is still capable of improving people's lives in China, whereas here it is largely not. Too bad the Democrats won't tell you that!