Continuing our ongoing series on elite bailout discourse, the Washington Post dedicated all five of its op-ed slots and its lead editorial to the topic today. If you enjoy the smell of consensus in the morning, this MSM's for you:
The fine points of financial reform can wait. For Congress, the immediate task is to avert economic disaster.
Congress cannot afford to delay for long taking up and passing the financial bailout legislation urged by the administration. It can tinker with the details, but inaction is not an option.
Nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of a market meltdown. A good weekend's work at Andrews [Air Force Base] ought to be enough to hammer out the complicated parts[.]
[M]arkets, left to themselves, will not solve this sort of crisis. They need government help -- in this case, on a scale that would have daunted even [John Maynard] Keynes -- including underwriting mortgage loans, backstopping the market for credit swaps and other steps. [...]
[I]f the taxpayers are going to acquire a stake in the nation's largest insurance company, perhaps that company can be the cornerstone of a new system of universal private health coverage. If the taxpayers are going to acquire $700 billion in real estate assets, perhaps the eventual profits can fund new investments in infrastructure or energy technology.
McCain wants to retain tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans; Obama wants to create tax cuts for all but the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans. Obama favors policies -- through investments in infrastructure and education and through legislation enabling Americans to join unions without fear of being fired -- to build the base of the economy, while McCain's record is one of opposition to such policies. Obama favors trade agreements only when they raise labor and environmental standards with our trading partners and protect them here at home; McCain has supported every trade pact that has weakened such standards and has never said one word about protecting our standards or raising them abroad.
What to do? Reenact Richard Nixon's great idea: federal revenue sharing. States and localities should get the funds to plug their revenue gaps and maintain real public spending, per capita, for the next three to five years. Also, enact the National Infrastructure Bank, making bond revenue available in a revolving fund for capital improvements. There is work to do. There are people to do it. Bring them together. What could be easier or more sensible?
Here's another problem: the wealth loss to near-retirees and the elderly from a declining stock market as things shake out. How about taking care of this, with rough justice, through a supplement to Social Security? If you need a revenue source, impose a turnover tax on stocks.
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