Bailouts & Sellouts

Paulson can dole out these huge funds without advance notice to any independent parties, or full disclosure of recipients or terms; and where terms are disclosed, they are usually vague, not taxpayer friendly, and fail to give the government powers commensurate with the taxpayers’ investment and risk. The notion that this is “Bush socialism” is nonsensical, on a par with making Bush a socialist in paying out taxpayer money to Halliburton and Blackwater for their work in Iraq. The Bush cabal has been throwing vast sums into private hands via war contracting and privatization for years. This is looting, not socialism.

It is also notable how bipartisan the looting has been. Bipartisanship is a virtue of the Democratic Party, and the mainstream media are pleased to see that Party so bipartisan and “pragmatic,” meaning that they avoid populism and are willing, even eager, to compromise with the Republicans even when their voting constituency wants them to do otherwise. Obama seems to be clearly in that great tradition, being openly commended by Karl Rove, Joe Lieberman, Max Boot, John McCain, and David Brooks for his appointments (see Jeremy Scahill, “‘Better Than Cats!,’ Neocons, Republicans, War Criminals, Rave About Obama’s ‘Team of Rivals’,” Huffington Post, November 30, 2008), and mentioned explicitly in the New York Times for his bipartisanship and courting of the Republicans for policy inputs (Jeff Zeleny, “Initial Steps by Obama Suggest a Bipartisan Flair,” NYT, November 24, 2008). The contrast with the Republicans’ treatment of Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush’s appointments of Republican hardliners nearly across the board, could hardly be more dramatic.

The media don’t press the Republicans toward bipartisanship and pragmatism, only the Democrats, and the Democrats oblige. They have voted to fund the looting of taxpayers (and Iraqis) throughout the invasion-occupation of Iraq. Of course, it is important that they kept doing this even after the voters gave them a congressional majority in 2006, quite evidently based on the public’s rejection of the Iraq policy and desire to get out. (Democratic leaders rationalized this on the grounds that they didn’t have the 60 votes needed to override a veto; but they had enough votes to refuse funding till conditions were met that forced withdrawal, a power which they failed to use.) In the bailout looting, Nancy Pelosi made a vigorous effort to get the Democrats to go along with the initial $700 billion blank check to Paulson and she has been bipartisan all the way on this subject, just as she, Harry Reid, and Rahm Emanuel were bipartisan with Bush-Cheney on funding the Iraq occupation-pacification.

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