"Madame Speaker, only in Washington could a bill demonstrably worse than its predecessor be brought back for another vote and actually expect to gain votes," Congressman Ron Paul lamented on the floor of the House on Friday, October 3, the day the gargantuan financial bailout package was passed by the House, completing congressional action.
Following a roller coaster day on Wall Street that saw the Dow close under 10,000 for the first time in years, the Federal Reserve has announced that it will invoke emergency powers under which it will buy billions in commercial paper — short-term debt instruments — in order to provide credit to companies other than those in the financial sector that have been stung by the collapse of the credit market.
ITEM: The New York Times for September 9 editorialized: "As an act of crisis management, the government takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage-finance giants, was a reasonable and reassuring move. It ensures the flow of mortgage credit and is likely to reduce mortgage rates, which are important steps toward the eventual recovery of the ailing United States housing market."
In a stunning defeat to the financial powers that be, the U.S. House of Representatives rejected the proposed $700 billion dollar bailout bill in the teeth of formidable media and political pressure. Only such a bailout, President Bush, Treasury Secretary Paulson, and Fed Chairman Bernanke have been insisting for more than a week, can possibly save the United States from an economic apocalypse — never mind that this massive spending bill was cobbled together in haste, in secret, and with little notion of how much taxpayer money might ultimately be required to buy up unknown amounts of bad mortgage-based assets.
These days President Bush and the managers of our monetary policy sound like prophets of doom when they talk about the economy. "The government's top economic experts warn that without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic, and a distressing scenario would unfold," President Bush claimed when he addressed the nation on Wednesday, September 24.
A year ago, Congressman Ron Paul was just beginning to turn heads on the national electoral stage, owing to his presidential campaign's unexpected success at raising money. Congressman Paul was briefly applauded by media elites — until the full meaning of his message began to sink in. For Congressman Paul, as almost everybody knows by now, is an uncompromising foe of Big Government, and the greatest champion of the Constitution in Washington for at least a generation.
The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. seized Washington Mutual Inc. (also known as WaMu bank) on September 25, and then brokered an emergency sale of the firm’s banking assets to JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $1.9 billion. As a thrift bank, WaMu’s business was focused mainly on taking deposits and originating home mortgages.
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.