Monday, September 29, 2008

Bailout Is Unsavory, But Doing Nothing Is Worse

There's plenty of blame to go around now, and yours truly is going to be among the first to point a finger. Back in 1984, I had a political opinion column for a short time (until we got a Republican owner) for a small-town daily paper. I was forecasting 24 years ago that the trend toward deregulation was a recipe for disaster.

OK, I told you so. Now we've got an economic train wreck, though, and blame should be sorted out later. Let's clean up the damage first.

Today the U.S. House defeated the proposed $700 billion financial markets bailout, 228-205. To set one piece of the record straight, the opposition was about two-thirds of House Republicans and about 40 percent of House Democrats. Call me distrustful, but I suspect that the House Republican opposition had less to do with small investors and borrowers on Main Street and more to do with big campaign contributors on Wall Street.


I don't enjoy seeing the latter bailed out any more than anyone else with a populist streak. But it's times like these when Americans should see clearly what it means to be a "community." Rich or poor, or in between, we sink or swim together when it comes to national survival. Irresponsible wealth is mostly to blame for this. But as one of those small investors and borrowers on Main Street, I can tell you that my future, and that of others like me, will be the likely price of inaction.

There will be no way for lawmakers to work out an ideal solution for this. But this bill sounded somewhat reasonable, based on general descriptions available since yesterday.

Congress returns to session Thursday. If there was ever a time to call and e-mail your congressperson, this is it, and in favor of action, not inaction. These louts have pensions and health care for life -- they don't have to worry about where their food and medicine are coming from. Let's get them back in Washington and at the table, to forge an acceptable compromise.