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Not a time for partisanship

09/25/2008

By Gary Crosby

In his 1980 work <MI>The Real War<D>, Richard Nixon discusses the Cold War and global power in terms of national will, diplomacy, natural resources (i.e., oil), military power and economic power.

Today we find ourselves facing crises of national will, diplomacy, oil and economic power. We are a nation observing its national will in the mirror of a national election fraught with bickering, name calling and a total lack of anything resembling a coherent, reasoned discussion of the great issues facing our great nation. We have seen our global diplomatic status erode through consistent, unilateral initiatives. Our refusal to deal with our increasing thirst for foreign oil has put us in a position where our national wealth is being siphoned off at a staggering pace. We still can take perverse comfort in our ability to bomb anyone into the Stone Age with virtual impunity, though we seem to be having trouble keeping track of all of our nukes. And our economic power, the great stability and opportunity of the U.S. capital markets, stands in a shambles, victim to misguided legislation and lack of oversight.

Today the debate is raging regarding the great $700 billion bailout bill. The administration says that the plan is desperately needed to maintain the solvency of the U.S. economy. Voices from the opposition bemoan the shifting of the burden onto the taxpayers. Both arguments have merit. In a global financial marketplace where billions of dollars are moved with the push of the button, time is of the essence, and the appearance of a protracted legislative fight will only reinforce the impression that the U.S. has no credible plan. Conversely, the granting of a financial mulligan to a handful of Wall Street profiteers is as distasteful as a plate of cold haggis.

Into this mix, as predictable as the sunrise, has entered Senator Bernie Sanders. On the senator's web site (Sanders Op-Ed: The Middle Class Must Not Be Forced to Bail Out Wall Street Greed -- 09/21/2008) he states

"...as a member of the House Banking Committee and now as a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I have heard the Bush administration tell us how 'robust' our economy was and how strong the 'fundamentals' were... Now, we are being told that if Congress does not act immediately and approve the $700 billion Wall Street bailout proposal ...there will be an unprecedented economic meltdown in the United States and an unraveling of the global economy."

Now, I don't know about you, but this strikes me as odd. Isn't Sanders, as a member of these committees, supposed to be the expert on banking issues?  Shouldn't he be telling the president, and anyone who might listen, what the state of our economy is? Why is he looking to the president for analysis of our economic situation?
 
The answer to that question is quite simple. Sanders views this crisis as a vehicle for political gain first, and an opportunity to serve his constituents and this nation, second. Before we rush to lay the blame for the current mess on the Bush administration, let us remember that it was President Clinton who signed into law the legislation to dismantle Glass-Steagall, the post depression regulations that prevented the construction of integrated financial institutions. Without that legislation, sponsored by Phil Gramm, R-Texas, we could not have gotten into this mess.
 
The blame for this mess crosses party lines and is at your feet, Senator, as well as your colleagues, past and present, on both sides of the aisle.
We are faced with a Hobson's choice: Fund the bailout with taxpayer dollars or let the financial institutions fail, and bring our collective net worth and economy down with them. With the bailout, we buy time to let you "experts in congress" who represent us try to fix the problem. Without it, you are off the hook. You will keep drawing your government check while those whom you, supposedly, serve lose everything.

Time is of the essence.  Partisanship is unacceptable.  Tweak the bill, but don't re-write it.  
 
Gary Crosby lives in Fayston.
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