Monday, September 22, 2008

Do You Trust These Men?

Some form of the bailout plan recently proposed by the Bush Administration is probably needed to head off an even faster, bigger unraveling of the world’s economy than would happen otherwise. But the more details of the Bush proposal that I read, the more I am reminded of the days just after 9/11 when President Bush proposed, and Congress wrote and passed, the PATRIOT Act out of fear that sleeper cells were lying in wait and the only way to catch them was to take a few steps in the direction of a police state. I am also reminded of the days in the run-up to President Bush’s war of aggression on Iraq, when Congress ceded authority to the President to use force against Saddam Hussein--based again on a sense of crisis and impending doom.

The modus operandi of this administration is clear by now: allow things to reach the point of crisis through equal parts incompetence and inattention, wake up to the danger posed by the situation, and then react with a solution based in giving more and more power to the Executive Branch of the government. The knee-jerk reactions of Bush, Cheney, et al. betray quite a wide streak of fascistic tendencies. For so-called conservatives, they seem to have a strong desire to concentrate as much power in the hands of the Executive as Congress and the people will put up with.

I am worried that the current proposal, (ostensibly aimed at strengthening financial institutions at-risk because of the proliferation of no-money-down, no-income-check, interest-only, adjustable rate mortgages), is really just another grab at more power for the Executive Branch. I am not prone to conspiracy theories—I base my opinion in this case on the words of the President’s proposal:

“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.”

It is impossible for me to read these words and not question the motives of the Bush Administration. To summarize, they have asked for $700 billion of taxpayer money AND the power to do whatever they want with it without review or oversight. Secretary Paulson would have the power to do whatever he (and co-Presidents Bush/Cheney) deem acceptable. After 9/11, Iraq, and Hurricane Katrina I trust neither the intentions of these men nor their ability to actually manage a crisis in a competent way.

I am glad many in Congress feel the same way I do and are working to add oversight and accountability to the bailout. To my way of thinking it is six years too late, but better late than never.

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