First Wall Street bankers. Then government lending agencies known as Fannie and Freddie. Next in line for federal handouts was the international insurance company A.I.G. It begins to look as though the recipients of the hundreds of billions in bailouts will include virtually everyone. While the federal gravy train is still dispensing its favors, state governments are now looking to Washington to cover their huge deficits.
Anger is on the rise all across the country concerning the proposed government bailout of the mortgage industry. The $700 billion dollar price tag, at a time when Americans are already suffering from ionospheric fuel and food prices and are awaiting winter heating bills with trepidation, has stirred resentment among those whose taxes will have to foot the bill for such extravagance.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is on the verge of becoming the most influential man to hold that post since Alexander Hamilton, and the most powerful Secretary of the Treasury in U.S. history, if the massive bailout legislation being contemplated in Congress is passed. In the words of the Christian Science Monitor, the legislation "would transform Paulson's office into that of temporary overseer of America's entire financial system" with "the power to buy virtually any financial instrument from any institution, as a means to relieve it of bad assets and pump credit back into the economy." It is hard to imagine that even Alexander Hamilton, who was something of a supporter of big government relative to most of the other Founding Fathers, would support such a revolutionary change.
Adding to the woes of Americans reeling from the fallout stemming from the national housing and mortgage crises, recent Wall Street events such as the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, the sale of an ailing Merrill Lynch to Bank of America, and the government’s $85 billion bailout of American International Group have had ripple effects extending throughout the entirety of the nation’s credit market.