It's all over but the details, which kind of matter:
Congressional leaders from both political parties said today they had agreed to the outlines of a proposed $700 billion bailout of U.S. financial markets, with limits on executive pay and help for homeowners in distress.
The agreement came a few hours ahead of a meeting called by President George W. Bush with House and Senate leaders, along with presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama this afternoon.
Lawmakers said many of the final details were still being hammered out, and that the deal still needed input from the Bush administration, but that the map for the largest government move in the U.S. financial system since the Great Depression had been drawn.
"We are prepared to act expeditiously on a plan with our colleagues that will allow us to send a very strong message to the markets," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn.
The Dow Jones Industrial average was up about 240 points after the deal was announced.
Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, said lawmakers had a deal "that will pass the House, pass the Senate, be signed by the Senate and bring a sense of certainty to the markets."
Good luck hammering on the details, fellas! There's no upside here at all except perhaps this one: It likely means the end of any major new spending initiative under President McCain or Obama (or Barr!). And maybe all this new spending will mean bringing the boys and girls home from Iraq sooner rather than later.
Then again, this bailout might just make it tougher to make Bush's tax cuts "permanent." Or free markets free.
Sens. McCain and Obama have issued CYA statements, but both are behind a plan, which likely means the one just agreed-to, though worse (given that they're running for president, they'll be grandstanding all the way to the finish line):
"Inaction is not an option," McCain said yesterday in Freeland, Michigan. "We must pass legislation to address this crisis." At the same time, he said the bailout represents "an unprecedented sum," and "that money can't simply go into a black hole of bad debt."
Obama said the government should get a stake in any company that benefits from the bailout.
"If taxpayers are being asked to underwrite hundreds of billions of dollars to solve this crisis, they must be treated like investors," the Democratic presidential nominee said in Clearwater, Florida.
I don't want to be treated like an investor here. That means I could lose even more money, especially if the government is managing my money.
McCain is pushing a proposal to cap the salary of any executive at any company that benefits from the bailout at $400,000, "the same pay as the U.S. president's."
You know, isn't it about time we think about cutting the pay of the nation's CEO, rather than worrying too much about how much dumb jamucks at Lehman Brothers are making? I mean, really, the past eight years have been nothing short of disastrous, with Bush spending like a drunken sailor and regulating like, like, like, Capt. Queeg (?) or something (all that's left is for Bush to start complaining about his frozen strawberries). And the war. And the prescription drug plan. And civil liberties. And…