Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Congress Votes 228 to 205 for Great Depression II

The U.S. House of Representatives voted this Monday not to approve the $700 billion bailout bill to help the ailing financial services industry, causing the stock market to drop nearly 8%. The vote was 228 against the bailout and 205 for the bailout. Now we’ll see if this brings on another Great Depression, as many politicians have warned.

Barack Obama also says he supports the bailout. But in his Illinois delegation Democrats Jesse Jackson, Jr. from Chicago, Bobby Rush from Chicago, Dan Lipinski from Western Springs, and Jerry Costello from Belleville voted against the bailout. Here in Massachusetts, Democrat Barney Frank, House Banking Committee Chairman, led the effort to craft and pass the bailout bill. But Democratic Representatives Bill Delahunt from Quincy, Stephen Lynch from South Boston, and John Tierney from Salem voted against the bailout. Those Democrats would have been enough votes to change the outcome, so we think Barack Obama has some hope that the failure of the bailout will not be as dire as some have predicted.

John McCain says he supports the bailout but could only get 65 Republicans in the House to vote for it, which was not enough to cancel the 95 Democrats who voted against it. Four Republican Representatives from McCain’s home state of Arizona and one Republican from his running mate Sarah Palin’s home state of Alaska voted against the bailout. That’s almost enough votes to change the result, so we think he too could have come up with enough votes if he had wanted too.

We’ve been listening to the debate, and find it somewhat wanting for the apparent gravity of the situation.

Painting with Taxpayer Dollars
Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York), dismissing John McCain's coming back to Washington, DC as a political stunt: "It's as if, you know, you're in the middle of drawing an amazing painting and someone else comes in and says, 'hey, come in, let me throw my brush marks on there.' It just doesn't make sense."

LBOTC: Chuck, We don’t think there has ever been a great artist named Chuck. We think we’re going to have to take your paintbrush away.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke (R): “Just as you sell a painting at Sotheby's, until you sell it, nobody knows what it is worth."

LBOTC: A painting, Ben? You do understand you’re talking about our economy? Is this how this went down with your speechwriter?

(A) Sell a painting at Sotheby’s
(B) Sell your pound cows at the cattle auction
(C) Trade in your clunker for a new car
(D) List your plane on eBay
(E) Put your house up for sale

Yes, pick (A), the average person will understand that analogy best. See you at Sotheby’s. Or maybe Christie’s.

Oops, I Did it Again
Ben Bernanke quote from economist Milton Friedman's ninetieth birthday party in 2002: "Let me end my talk by abusing slightly my status as an official representative of the Federal Reserve System. I would like to say to Milton and Anna: Regarding the Great Depression. You're right, we did it. We're very sorry. But thanks to you, we won't do it again."

LBOTC: I guess we’re not that innocent.

Another Fine Mess
House Banking Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Massachusetts): “The private sector got us into this mess. The government has to get us out of it.”

LBOTC: We suspect this is another fine mess you have gotten us into. We remember a story in Time Magazine a few years back about how your houseguest was running a prostitution service out of your apartment. Talk about your lack of oversight skills.

Worst Sports Analogy
Barney Frank on John McCain stepping into the negotiations:

"It's the longest Hail Mary pass in the history of either football or Marys."

LBOTC: And what do you know about football or Marys?

Worst Cooking Analogy
Mike Huckabee (R-Arkansas): The very people who burned the Thanksgiving turkey now want to cook the Christmas dinner.

LBOTC: It’s still September. The turkey would still be wandering around the barnyard.

So Sorry to Embarrass You
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson (R): "I share the outrage people have. It's embarrassing to look at this. I think it's embarrassing to the United States of America. There's a lot of blame to go around."

LBOTC: You’re embarrassed? No, you are the embarrassment. You can always go back where you came from to Goldman Sachs, which I noticed Warren Buffet just bailed out with $5 billion. Or maybe now you can’t go back?

Did You Also Miss Your Kids’ School Plays?
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Connecticut): "We've got to get this right. There is no second act,"

LBOTC: Mr. Dodd, how do you know there is only one act? Are you the playwright for this tragedy? We’ve been watching this show for a year now and it feels more like the fourth or fifth act. Did you miss the start of this show because you were running for President? We know you moved your family to Iowa before the caucuses and put your kids in school there. Who was minding the store back in Washington, DC?

The Show Must Go On
Bill Clinton (D) to Tom Brokaw on Thursday: “Listen, if we can just get out of this thing now and get the show back on the road, we will have learned quite a lot that's good for us.”

LBOTC: Haven’t we seen this show before? And what is the lesson?

Bill Clinton: “Because people now recognize all over again what they had to learn in the depression and two or three times since, which is markets, if unaccountable at the margins, will self-destruct. They will cannibalize themselves.”

LBOTC: Are you describing the markets or politicians?

Least Appetizing Lunch
Mouse Minority Leader John Boehner (R) speaking to the Republican Caucus before the vote Monday called the bailout a “crap sandwich” but said he’d vote for it anyway when it came to the floor.

LBOTC: Way to rally the caucus, John.

Least Obama-Like Moment

Worst Pet Analogy
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D): “Chairman Bernanke is probably one of the foremost authorities in America on the subject of the Great Depression. I don’t know what was so great about the Depression, but that’s the name they give it. And we heard the secretary and the chairman tell us that this was a once in a hundred year phenomenon, this fiscal crisis was so drastic. Certainly once in 50 years, probably once in a hundred years. And how did it sneak up on us? So silently, almost on little cat feet.”

LBOTC: Have you been paying attention as the housing market tanked and gas prices sky-rocketed over the last 3 years?

Best Pet Analogy
Barry Goldwater, Jr.: Never let your dog watch your food, never let the Congress watch your money.

LBOTC: I know that dog, her name is Brandy.

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