Monday, September 22, 2008

Not so fast Mr Bush!

Eight years of looking the other way as greedy cronies got rich by gaming our system has now led to what had to be a predictable predicament.
To fix this mess, our fearless leader now wants unprecedented approval of authority to use Federal funds whenever he -or his Treasury Secretary- decides it to be necessary!
But not particularly surprising, given he did a similar thing with the 'Patriot Act' rush job and the Congressional authorization to print money to finance a made-up war in Iraq!
Those hurry up proposals haven't turned out so well, have they?
And, its remarkable how similar the price tags are -only $700 Billion in each case!
Mr Bush seems to feel the US Govt can just keep on printing money for whatever purpose he chooses.
And, he wants it now, within any diddling around by Congress, because it is another emergency!

Now, as members of Congress are asking questions, the administration appears to be trying to raise the stakes even higher.
They want to extend Federal buy-out authority to ANY troubled business that they -in their sole discretion- deem necessary!
Does that sound like a dangerous proposal or not?
If Bush wanted to create fear in the public mind without using the threat of terrorism, he couldn't have picked a better method than claiming the entire economy is about to fail if he doesn't get his way!

To pressure Congress to do his bidding, he says 'the World is watching'.
No kidding!
Just like the World has been watching his incompetent foolishness during the past 8 years!

There is no question that a serious problem now exists in our financial sector.
I only need to watch the daily hits my retirement funds are taking to figure that out.
The question is what is the best course of action to take, which will insure no further harm while actually addressing the difficult situation that has been let to happen.
Now, does that assignment sound like the sort of thing that can be reasoned out and implemented in a few days?
Under pressure?
In the midst of a Presidential campaign?
Before Congress adjourns?

I think that is too big an order to reasonably expect to be accomplished under these extreme conditions, particularly with the administration's very questionable credibility.
At a minimum, and since this probably is an emergency, something along these lines might work:

• Determine carefully what conditions might work, without gifting public funds or unduly restricting their use.

• Spell out clearly what Govt ownership is expected, including management of turnaround, ongoing operations and eventual sale to recoup federal funds used.

• Will only domestic companies be included? What about foreign subsidiaries or components?

• Will companies in which members of the administration, Congress have substantial interests be included? How would conflicts of interest be determined and handled?

• Clearly define what types of financial assistance will be offered if approval is granted.

• Let Congress determine which specific companies qualify for federal bail-out, by separately considering proposals from the administration.

• Make these initial terms & conditions provisional and subject to future modification by future administrations, with Congressional approval.

• Set up an oversight body to monitor results versus expectations and periodically report these findings to the administration, Congress and the general public.

No one likely has all the answers to this Gordian Knot of a problem, least of all those who watched it happen on their watch!
It took time for the true dimensions of the problem to develop and reveal themselves, as it will take time to come up with a satisfactory resolution.
It serves no good citizen's interest to adopt yet another Ready, Fire Aim approach!

Think about this when voting!