Thursday, September 25, 2008

Republicans show some spine

at least temporarily.

When Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner (speaker and minority leader in the House of Representatives, respectively) issued a joint statement on Wednesday night promising to work together towards making the proposed financial bailout successful and effective, it seemed like just another example of the middleness of American politics - however viscerally opposed to each other the two parties can seem, they agree on most things that matter during the rare times that matter. It seemed imminent that after adding cosmetic features to the proposal to put up a show, legislators on both sides would ultimately give the Administration what it wanted.

Apparently not, at least not tonight. A dayful of hectic negotiations in the White House - involving the president, Hendy Paulson, leaders from both parties, and the leading presidential candidates - produced nada as Republican John Boehner pulled the rug, claiming that his caucus could not support government-sponsored bailout.

His real motivation is likely to be to buy time to generate support among some of his recalcitrant colleagues, but it gives hope, even if for only one night.

The frenzy in Washington and everywhere else about the bailout proposal over the past couple of days has been extraordinary. However, I find it a tragedy that the narrative still does not seem to lean any towards a critique of the fundamental premise of this credit-fueled economy. Politicians and commentators are running around looking for whipping boys - greedy Wall Street firms, aggressive mortgage sellers, other politicians - but not one finger is raised at the way Americans' ways of spending and (not) saving have been fashioned by decades of credit-friendly monetary policies.

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