Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Quick Follow-Up Thought About the Bailout Bill

Why is it that, when Tom Delay finds himself in a situation of must-pass legislation like this, he pushes the must-past legislation farther and farther from the center, until not a single Democrat can support it, and then passes it on the strength of his own caucus alone, in order to blame the Democrats for being obstructionists--while Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid use the same scenario to run all over Washington, bloviating about the need for compromise? If I were Speaker Pelosi, I'd call a press conference for Noon today and I'd say, "Wall Street, your fears are unfounded: the Democratic caucus is going to pass a bill today that funds Secretary Paulson's request, together with re-instituting Glass/Steagall, repealing all of Mr. Bush's tax cuts for the super-wealthy, restoring sanity to the capital gains tax, funding a national health insurance program, launching an immediate draw-down of the troop presence in Iraq, and raising the minimum wage."

Okay, so maybe those last two are a bit over-the-top, but the point is that the Republicans in the House don't have to like the bill for it to pass, and the Republicans in the Senate don't dare try to filibuster it. The Democrats could at a stroke make themselves the heroes of both Wall Street (by getting the thing passed all by themselves) and Main Street (by passing it in a form that people could actually live with), while the Republicans would have the choices of either standing against a solution to the crisis for the second time in less than a week, or voting for something they would not ever, in a million years, vote for under any other circumstances.

Pelosi and Reid should even call it the "Repairing the Preposterous Incompetence of the Past Eight Years Act of 2008," or something--include language that calls for an end to Bush's "signing statements," his unauthorized wiretaps, I mean to say: they could put almost anything in this bill and it would still escape filibuster as long as Paulson got his money. "The Republicans had their chance at voting for a compromise bill," Pelosi and Reid could say, "and they voted against it. Now we're going to do the business of the people without them, if necessary."

Personally I'm inlined not to wonder about this idea as if it were a hypothetical. Personally I'm inclined to call upon all my regular readers who have Democratic representatives in either one or both chambers of congress to write to those representatives with this very suggestion. It's not too late for us to make not just political-, not just electoral-, but, gosh, actual legislative lemonade out of this monstrous situation. All it takes is the will to use this unusual position of power in which we find ourselves.

And friends, it pains me to say this, but Tom Delay would never have hesitated in such a position.

Dave O'Gorman
("The Key Grip")
Gainesville, Florida

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