Saturday, January 24, 2009

You Can't Just Listen To Rush Limbaugh

At the end of an almost perfect week. A week that included more praise and adulation (bordering on worship) than any president in modern history, President Obama took time out of his busy schedule to notice that there was a person in the country not agreeing with him. The President warned Republicans that"You can't just listen to Rush Limbaugh and get things done." I think this very little incident gives us an interesting glimpse into the man.

Richard Nixon had thin skin too.

Being too aware of your critics is one of the many personality traits that lead Nixon down his path of paranoia and self-destruction. Clinton had his rapid response team. I guess President Obama has a zero-tolerance of disagreement policy. Bush didn't respond to anything. It seems amazing that a President could propose the most massive spending program in history and not expect some dissent. Especially after we learned that the second biggest (the bank bailout known as TARP) become a political slush fund and was used by banks to buy other banks...all without oversight or accountability. But I'm sure this one will be different.

You can't just listen to Barney Frank either.

Barney Frank looks at TARP and stimulus like all of the other incumbents: Fast cash for friends and an easy path to reelection. Barney has the same trouble all politicians have with unlimited funds. From the Wall Street Journal:
Troubled OneUnited Bank in Boston didn't look much like a candidate for aid from the Treasury Department's bank bailout fund last fall.

The Treasury had said it would give money only to healthy banks, to jump-start lending. But OneUnited had seen most of its capital evaporate. Moreover, it was under attack from its regulators for allegations of poor lending practices and executive-pay abuses, including owning a Porsche for its executives' use.

Nonetheless, in December OneUnited got a $12 million injection from the Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. One apparent factor: the intercession of Rep. Barney Frank, the powerful head of the House Financial Services Committee.

Mr. Frank, by his own account, wrote into the TARP bill a provision specifically aimed at helping this particular home-state bank. And later, he acknowledges, he spoke to regulators urging that OneUnited be considered for a cash injection.

In other words. We are letting this congress pick winners and losers based on nothing more than political ties. More of the same old pay to play bullshit.

The answer is called the Resolution Trust Corporation.

The RTC liquidated "toxic" assets without a lot of political interference in the 80's and 90' the TARP was supposed to do, but didn't. Why? It's not so hard to figure, there wasn't any money in it for the politicians. When RTC was done, it was dissolved. No one left to lobby, no kickbacks. The damn thing was too fucking efficient. Fast forward 15 years and it became blindingly clear we needed RTC 2, but congress recalled the efficient and unprofitable (for them) way things went before and decide to take a new path, one that morphed a 2 page bill into thousands pages of pork.

Why not just give everyone a check for one million dollars?

Really, how different is that from the philosophy that government can spend it's way out of a recession. Hell, it would probably be cheaper in the long run because it would teach people about basic economics. I can only imagine what a new car would cost by the end of the first week.

Hayek had it right, this is the road to serfdom.

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