September 23, 2008

Answers Without Questions

Let us not forget that our Constitution was designed by the American Founding Fathers for slow, deliberative action, so as to avoid the particular situation we find ourselves. But seriously, to paraphrase Tina Turner, what’s the Constitution got to do with it?

Are we so insulated from our recent past that we have forgotten the costs of rushing the Patriot Act through a midnight session of Congress during the aftermath of 9/11? We were so convinced by our desperation for answers and security that our distinguished representatives in Congress signed off on an earth-shattering bill without even reading it. Neither checks nor balances, my friend. A wink-wink, nudge-nudge will suffice. And yet here we are seven years later, where the stakes are higher but the game remains the same. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson wants an appropriation of $700 billion with no conditions, no terms—nothing written down on how he would spend the money.

Congress, during an election year, is going through the motions of being very, very concerned but will in the end sign off on the Paulson Plan. Later on in the third act, they will again be concerned over how Paulson’s appropriations were used to pay higher-than-market prices for the securities in question and will want answers. The answers, of course, could have come before they signed off, but that will be neither here nor there.

UPDATE 9/25: Questions, questions galore! How wrong was I in predicting a no-brainer signoff by Congress.Hopefully they'll continue their skeptical inquisition through the week.

Related Reading

The Wrong Emergency
Blame Fannie Mae and Congress For the Credit Mess
Anatomy of an Economic Crisis
High Anxiety
A Political ‘Solution’

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