Home > Congress, Economy > Bailout, pt 2

Bailout, pt 2

Thought I’d comment on Jay’s comment on my last post and his post at LitW in a new post of my own.

First off, let’s clear up what I meant in my first post:

“Pseudo” populism? I think a lot of opponents to the bill are real and genuine populists. Whether they’re right is moot, but I don’t think someone like Michael Moore, say, is faking his politics.

I was using pseudo more like someone would say pseudo-intellectual. I don’t think people are faking their outrage. I think their outrage is driving them to conclusions that are absurd. When you oppose the bailout because you don’t want to bail out those on Wall Street, it’s not a victory for populist politics. It’s a victory for irrational mob outrage. I’ll say it again: the fat cats on Wall Street are going to be fine. Maybe they have to give up a yacht and they may whine, but they’ll be fine. A small business owner who can’t get a loan to get through a rough patch? He and his employees aren’t going to be fine.

That’s if you’re ok with doing nothing. The other side of this is if you’re holding out for a better bill. I still say that’s fantasy. Republicans and blue dog Democrats didn’t vote against this bill because they wanted a more progressive bill. It wasn’t voted down by progressives, but conservatives. We’ve all seen the pattern of the last two years with progressive legislation: it passes the House, then dies in the Senate. If it makes it past the Senate, Bush vetoes it. That’s the fate of significantly more progressive legislation. We aren’t going to get conservatives on board with a more progressive bill, as much as we’d all like that.

The other thing in Jay’s post is a quote from Chris Bowers saying the bill failed because supporters failed to convince non-supporters. You can take that two ways. Whenever a bill fails, it’s trivially true that proponents failed to convince opponents. That’s sort of inherent in something failing. Bowers is using it to excuse opponents of blame for the bill’s failure. The second way you can take that is simply wrong on the merits. Nate at 538 has a good analysis of this. Swing state Congressman voted overwhelmingly against the bill. Outgoing Congressmen voted overwhelming for it. The rest were split. As in, it wasn’t arguments that convinced them, it was their electoral prospects. Those who had nothing to lose and should be the most open to argument voted for the bill. Those who had to deal with irrational mob outrage voted against it. This is why the bill will probably pass on the next go round. The bill is not unpopular; the polls were all over the place, depending on wording of the questions. The consequences of doing nothing are becoming more apparent and the outrage generated by people like Lou Dobbs will subside. Jay says he’s never seen a coalition like this, one that spans ideologies and parties. That’s correct. Guess what common interest those people have? Staying in power. That’s the key here.

To be clear, I don’t mean to belittle anyone who disagrees with the bailout. I have my opinion, you have yours, none of us are certain. What I am pretty sure of is that basing your opposition on populist outrage and a fantasy about what kind of bill Congress can pass is wrong.

Categories: Congress, Economy
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