Did TARP Really Happen? Auto Bailouts? The Stimulus?

Over the weekend, the folks at RealClearPolitics linked to my review in the April issue of Reason of Tom Frank's recent book, Pity the Billionaire: The Hard Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right

Here's a taste of my review:

It’s simply wrong to claim, as Frank does, that “the main political response to [the financial crisis of 2008] is a campaign to roll back regulation, to strip government employees of the right to collectively bargain, and to clamp down on federal spending.”...

Lest we forget, the major response to the financial crisis in 2008 was the bailing out of Wall Street and the auto companies under a conservative Republican president and the implementation of an $840 billion stimulus plan promoted by a Democratic president. That’s not to mention a massive overhaul of the nation’s financial regulations and a health care reform package that was routinely described as “historic” and “transformational” at its passage.

More here.

Both the Republican conservatives (President Bush, Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Sen. John McCain, Rep. Paul Ryan) who either conceived or enthusiastically voted for TARP and their Democratic counterparts (then-Sen. Barack Obama and most Dems in the Senate and House) have reasons for downplaying memories of the TARP vote and the auto bailouts. They were, in the end, bipartisan and generally unpopular.

But it's vitally important - especially with a press that assumes some sort of federal austerity program has been undertaken - to remember that the feds haven't turned off the money spigots that helped create the housing crisis, the debt crisis, you name it.

Indeed, those of us without party loyalties to the Dems or the Reps or ideological ties to libs and cons are left wondering how a decade-plus of reckless spending has somehow led to a world in which the budget debate is between a guy who wants to increase annual spending from around $3.8 trillion to $5.8 trillion (Obama) versus a party (GOP) that wants to raise it to "just" $4.9 trillion.

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  • Raven Nation||

    "They were, in the end, bipartisan and generally unpopular."

    Once again demonstrating the idiocy of the "we need bipartisanship" meme.

  • Tman||

    I used to love ignoring Frank when he had a column in the WSJ every Thursday.

    Dude makes Obama look downright moderate.

  • T||

    Can't any review of Thomas Frank be summed up as "Thomas Frank, once again, is upset that reality doesn't confirm his prejudices."? Unless my memory is failing, that was the point of What's The Matter With Kansas? and everything since.

  • Hugh Akston||

    If you repeat the narrative often enough that benighted obstructionist Republicans are the only thing standing between Democrats and utopia, it's bound to come true.

  • ||

    Tony agrees.

  • ||

    Thanks for including Paul Ryan's name in that list. It can't be repeated enough.

  • R C Dean||

    Yep. An act of political cowardice, that in the end got them nothing.

    They supported because they didn't want to take a beating in the 2008 election for doing nothing during the financial "crisis."

    So what did they get? A beating in the 2008 election.

  • Raven Nation||

    Would you argue that negates his (albeit weak) attempts to reduce the increasing in the spending rate? i.e. was he just wrong on TARP but starting to get it on spending or is he just another hypocrite?

  • R C Dean||

    I think "political cowardice" is the charitable interpretation.

    The alternative, after all, is that they genuinely believed that shovelling money out the door to failing firms was actually a good idea.

    I'll take a coward over an idiot in office any day. Cowards, at least, can be "persuaded" to do the right thing.

  • ||

    On the contrary his budget is in the same vein as TARP. It doesn't decrease spending at all. It never balances the budget. It is a worthless piece of crap.

  • Killazontherun||

    ^this. Fuck Ryan.

  • Scott @ Engage America||

    "The budget debate is between a guy who wants to increase annual spending from around $3.8 trillion to $5.8 trillion (Obama) versus a party (GOP) that wants to raise it to "just" $4.9 trillion."

    Just recently the CBO reported that that if laws remain unchanged the federal budget deficit for this year will be $1.1 trillion (http://1.usa.gov/xju6K9). That number is in addition to total debt over $15 Trillion and projections that by 2021 federal debt will be over $20 trillion (http://1.usa.gov/wt4DPi).

    So how do these economic plans help?

  • Scott @ Engage America||

    "The budget debate is between a guy who wants to increase annual spending from around $3.8 trillion to $5.8 trillion (Obama) versus a party (GOP) that wants to raise it to "just" $4.9 trillion."

    Just recently the CBO reported that that if laws remain unchanged the federal budget deficit for this year will be $1.1 trillion (http://1.usa.gov/xju6K9). That number is in addition to total debt over $15 Trillion and projections that by 2021 federal debt will be over $20 trillion (http://1.usa.gov/wt4DPi).

    So how do these economic plans help?

  • lisa00||

    I think "political cowardice" is the charitable interpretation.

    The alternative, after all, is that they genuinely believed that shovelling money out the door to failing firms was actually a good idea.

    I'll take a coward over an 2012 griffey shoesidiot in office any day. Cowards, at least, can be "persuaded" to do the right thing.

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