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Sunday, 21 September 2008
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The Latest In Bailout News

So far, this is the latest in the bailout that is costing each of us $2,500 per person.  First off, this has been a long time coming.  And while John McCain's current stump speeches say practically nothing new given recent circumstances (he's still pushing tax cuts and suggests pork barrel reform will get us out this), at least he's smarter than Obama, since Obama is trying to blame all this on Bush (and by Republican association, McCain).  The problem is that Bush, contrary to current Democratic dogma, wasn't trying to deregulate us into this current misery:

The Bush administration today recommended the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago.

Under the plan, disclosed at a Congressional hearing today, a new agency would be created within the Treasury Department to assume supervision of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-sponsored companies that are the two largest players in the mortgage lending industry.

The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios.

The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt -- is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates.

The dateline on that story?  September 11, 2003.  And what was the Democratic response to all this?  For the most part, they didn't want to hear much about it.  After all, F&F were doing the country a great service by offering affordable housing to those who couldn't afford a mortgage, while at the same time donating a lot of money to them:

During this period, Sen. Richard Shelby led a small group of legislators favoring reform, including fellow Republican Sens. John Sununu, Chuck Hagel and Elizabeth Dole. Meanwhile, Dodd — who along with Democratic Sens. John Kerry, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the top four recipients of Fannie and Freddie campaign contributions from 1988 to 2008 — actively opposed such measures and further weakened existing regulation.

Of course, that is all looking backwards.  I suppose you could say what's done is done, but I don't think rewarding bad behavior is something anyone likes to do.  Of course, the reality here is that both candidates are damn lucky this happened now.  By the time inauguration runs around, all the tough decisions will be made for them, and they'll have a free ticket to blame the first two years of financial woes in this country on the previous administration.  In the mean time, new details about our bailout are coming to light:

The Bush administration asked Congress for unchecked power to buy $700 billion in bad mortgage investments from U.S. financial companies in what would be an unprecedented government intrusion into the markets.
...
The plan would raise the ceiling on the national debt and spend as much as the combined annual budgets of the Departments of Defense, Education and Health and Human Services.

Via Reason.  And if the pure dollars don't scare the crap out of you, hopefully this bit out of proposed legislation will:

Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.

(a) Authority to Purchase.–The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.
...
Sec. 8. Review.

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Via Instapundit.  A couple of things here.  I wonder if financial institutions have the right to refuse to sell.  Presumably there are some banks that are on good footing that would like to keep a hold of some of their higher interest debt.  Will they be allowed to, or is this considered a taking?  Secondly... not reviewable?!  So not only do we now treat our President as a king, but his appointed secretary is now an Emperor?  And not just an American Emperor either.  No... Paulson has sights on the entire world:

In a change from the original proposal sent to Capitol Hill, foreign-based banks with big U.S. operations could qualify for the Treasury Department’s mortgage bailout, according to the fine print of an administration statement Saturday night.

The theory, according to a participant in the negotiations, is that if the goal is to solve a liquidity crisis, it makes no sense to exclude banks that do a lot of lending in the United States.

I don't fucking think so.

# Posted at 18:13 by Nick  |  Comment Feed Link 5 Comments  |  1 Trackback

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"On Bailout Stand By Your Criticism" (The American Mind) [Trackback]

Monday, 22 September 2008 09:42:51 (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)
While the non-review portion is extremely troubling and the decision to lump in foreign banks is simply mind-blowing, any decision by a solvent institution to sell to the federal government would be voluntary (at least until 1/21/2009).
Monday, 22 September 2008 09:58:21 (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)
Voluntary. Yep, Just like re-opening your bank after the bank holiday in 1933 was voluntary!!.

The People's State Bank of Three Lakes Wisconsin was told in 1933 that they re-open only if the bank volunteered to allow every safety deposit box be searched.

I had the opportunity to speak to the Vernon Dobb in 1979 (president of the bank in 1933). This voluntary condition still galled him after more than 45 years
Monday, 22 September 2008 14:00:53 (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)
Which is why I put in the date, John.
Monday, 22 September 2008 14:11:00 (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)
That's the problem Steve... and its part of the awful thinking that Republicans have had for the last 8 years. Every time they grant some "new power" to the President, they act as if that power will magically expire at the end of the Bush term, because for some unexplicable reason they trust George Bush... which for the life of me I'll never understand.

However, despite the best efforts of some, we still elect a President, not a King. And we grant powers, however stupidly, to the office, not the man.

Every time you think to grant a power to Bush, your next thought should immediately be, "Would I want Obama (or Hillary, or whoever you hate)" to have it.
Monday, 22 September 2008 16:26:57 (Central Daylight Time, UTC-05:00)
That is the conundrum of politics, and something that had historically served to limit the desire for bigger government among conservatives (I won't say Republicans; there has always been a significant portion of the Republican Party in favor of bigger government).
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