Weird Day

Here are two quotes from the NY Times Op-Ed page. See if you can tell who is who. Selection 1:

Everyone seems to agree on the need for a big and comprehensive plan, and that the markets have to have some confidence that help is on the way. Funds need to be supplied, trading markets need to be stabilized, solvent institutions needs to be protected, and insolvent institutions need to be put on the path to a deliberate liquidation or reorganization.

But is the administration’s proposal the right way to do this? It would enable the Treasury, without Congressionally approved guidelines as to pricing or procedure, to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of financial assets, and hire private firms to manage and sell them, presumably at their discretion There are no provisions for — or even promises of — disclosure, accountability or transparency. Surely Congress can at least ask some hard questions about such an open-ended commitment.

Selection 2:
Everyone agrees that something major must be done. But Mr. Paulson is demanding extraordinary power for himself — and for his successor — to deploy taxpayers’ money on behalf of a plan that, as far as I can see, doesn’t make sense.

Some are saying that we should simply trust Mr. Paulson, because he’s a smart guy who knows what he’s doing. But that’s only half true: he is a smart guy, but what, exactly, in the experience of the past year and a half — a period during which Mr. Paulson repeatedly declared the financial crisis “contained,” and then offered a series of unsuccessful fixes — justifies the belief that he knows what he’s doing? He’s making it up as he goes along, just like the rest of us.
Mondays on the NY Times Op-Ed page are generally a study in opposites--Paul Krugman says something brilliant and insightful, and William Kristol drools on the page--and don't get me wrong, Kristol drools profusely at the end of today's column as well--but for this one, brief, shining moment, the two of them are in agreement about one thing, namely, that this "bailout" that the Bush administration is demanding is a really bad idea, at least as it's conceived right now.

I wouldn't like this plan if Paul Krugman were the Treasury Secretary--it gives too much power to a handful of people and has no oversight. Even well-intentioned people can go horribly wrong with that sort of power. But in this case, we're not dealing with well-intentioned people. We're talking about the Bush administration--an administration, I might remind people, who only has four months left in power. If they were overreaching back when they had to run a re-election campaign, they won't let anything get in their way when they've only got a limited amount of time left in office.

These are the people who have spent hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq, where private companies have made tons of money while the locals have gotten little or nothing in return, and future taxpayers are footing the bill. There's no reason to believe that this blank check, if it's provided, won't turn into one last, major money grab for the friends-of-George, a money grab that won't benefit us at all. I think they've made more than enough money off of us in the last eight years.

Call your Congressperson and Senators today, and tell them no deal on the bailout as it's currently proposed. You can email too, but calling leaves more of an impression on the office.

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