A chart (adjusted for inflation)
While I’m at it, I think Markos is right. These are the things we should be looking at:
What we need to determine the extent of this "crisis":
- Transparency. Release the presentation Paulson gave to congressional leaders that supposedly has them all spooked. Give us the data and information, and let outside economists pore over the numbers and reach independent conclusions. The Bushies lie and have zero credibility. We can’t trust anything they say.
- Timing. Why the sudden rush, when the administration has been working on this plan for months? Seems more than a little suspicious.
- Solution. We don’t know what the problem is, so we really don’t know if this solution addresses that problem. What we do know is that it’s targeted not just at failing institutions, but any old financial firm on Wall Street that wants a piece of our money. Even those that "are very successful banks and investment houses that have done very well". Heck, did I say "on Wall Street"? I almost forgot. Any foreign bank can apply!
- Details. Why $700 billion? Why not start off with, say, $75 billion. Is the emergency so dire that Treasury will spend all $700 billion next week? Doubtful. So put in what would amount to a bridge loan until people have had a chance to full understand the magnitude and severity of the problem. If it’s truly as bad as people say it is, further moneys can be appropriated.
- Motives. Given that the administration wants to give money to solvent financial institutions, is this just another component of the long-running conservative effort to bankrupt the government to destroy government’s ability to improve people’s lives?
- Incentives: The administration is really concerned that solvent banks may not take the bailout, so it has to be as condition-free as possible. Why is the administration desperate to force taxpayer funds into these private Wall Street institutions? If they don’t want our money, everyone wins, best of all, the taxpayers.
- Politics. The American people hate this thing, and those approval numbers are only getting worse. Given all the points listed above, whoever votes for this thing, even an "improved" version, will face a world of hurt this November, and if not this year, in primaries and general elections through 2010.
He also points to this:
We do not support government bailouts of private institutions. Government interference in the markets exacerbates problems in the marketplace and causes the free market to take longer to correct itself."
— The 2008 Republican Party Platform, adopted earlier this month