Sunday, March 16, 2008

Republican Talking Points (In) Memo(riam)

As the Bush Jr. administration rushed (well, it moved as fast as anyone could while printing $200 billion and toting it to Wall Street) to protect Bear Stearns Cos. from the consequences of swashbuckling mortgage manipulations gone bad this weekend, and after hearing Secretary of the Treasury Paulson proclaim that this government "would do what it takes" to defend Wall Street's titanic banks and brokers, I have been trying to determine which Republican principle(s) this moral hazard-inducing bailout would serve:
  1. limited government
  2. personal accountability ('you're on your own')
  3. fiscal responsibility

Neither an accountant nor a conservative, I am puzzled by the philosophical and political debit-and-credit allocations associated with the extraordinary effort to rescue aggressive (and, until recently, obscenely compensated) broker-dealers. This episode not only doesn't fit into any of the Republicans' ostensible long-term principles, but indeed infringes most of them.

The situation's stickiness is compounded by the chronic "deficits don't matter" irresponsibility of the Bush Jr. administration: The United States has wasted so much money producing quicksand in Iraq, and has so weakened its accounts at the altar of tax-slashing for inheritors (and, to be fair, even the exceptionally wealthy whose income was earned), that the funding for this bailout must be borrowed from foreigners.

I liked Republicans and conservatives much better when they genuinely stood for fiscal responsibility, limited government and, most important, reason-based competence.

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