Slouching Towards Washington to Be Born

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The House is set to vote on the bailout bill today, leaders optimistic that a week of arm-twisting and sky-is-falling commentary have made the job easier.

Black lawmakers said personal calls from Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama helped switch them from "no" to "yes," as Republicans and Democrats alike said appeals from credit-starved small businessmen and the Senate's addition of $110 billion in tax breaks and other sweeteners had persuaded them to drop their opposition.

"I hate it," but "inaction to me is a greater danger to our country than this bill," said GOP Rep. Zach Wamp of Tennessee, one of the 133 House Republicans who joined 95 Democrats in rejecting the measure Monday, sending the stock market plummeting.

Others said they were agonizing as they decided whether to change course and back the largest government intervention in markets since the Great Depression. "I'm trying desperately to get to 'yes,'" said Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-N.H.

The key to flipping House votes is not anything Obama or McCain have done, or any demands by the Republican Study Committee conservatives who torpedoed the bill last week. I keep hearing about scared constituents calling up their representatives and asking them to do something. The change from 10 to 1 anti-bailout calls and e-mails to 50/50 anti/pro-bailout calls is what's greasing the tracks. The key difference in the Senate roll call and the House roll call: Vulnerable Republicans (there are basically no vulnerable Senate Democrats) voted for the bailout. Those of them concerned about John McCain's campaign also know that he can't really win if any more time is spent talking about the economy.

NEXT: Friday Funnies

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  1. Has the depression started yet?

  2. You guys are really running the Yeats references a lot. KMW the other day with the “gyre”, etc. Can we get some Shelley, or maybe some Poe instead? Or even The Bard?

  3. Epie,

    I am kinda into Poe too, but I wish she would wear heels more often.

  4. We are so dead.

    Oh well, my grandparents survived growing up in the Great Depression – I guess my kids will survive growing up in the Great Depression II.

    The worst part? Like the failure of Hoover’s interventions, the depression caused by George Bush’s interventions will be blamed on laissez faire capitalism.

    Fuck you George Bush. I hope that there is a Christian God, because he will consign your ass to hell for an eternity for your blasphemy, idolatry, bearing of false witness, theft, murder, and covetousness of other people’s property.

  5. Epi,

    Sorry for abbreviating your name wrong above.

  6. Sorry, Guy–gorilla mask for you for the misspelling. Go get drunk and pass out.

  7. When do they add wage and price controls? I was expecting them to work a bit faster in this crazy Kansian world that is developing.

  8. Epi,

    In uniform today, sorry no drinkie until after 1600.

  9. So Wells Fargo agreed to buy Wachovia this morning, without federal assistance. Why aren’t we hearing more about that? It seems to be a huge blow to Paulson’s “act now! last chance!” rhetoric; apparently there are buyers out there for a lot of this stuff, but they need time to sort things out.

    It’s been a week and the economy is still here. Why the continued rush?

  10. matt2,

    And the other day Bank of America had to advertise that they are not going under, after all of this bank-bust talk.

    Sen. Reed, (D-NV) personally made the stock of at least 3 insurance companies from his crazy talk about some mythical insurance company about to go bust.

  11. The U.S. has what economists call a “mixed” economy: capitalism for the poor and socialism for the rich.

  12. Has the depression started yet?

    Well I just called and emailed my representative.

    A prize for the first to identify this quote:
    “We’re dead! We’re dead! We survived but we’re dead!”

  13. “So Wells Fargo agreed to buy Wachovia this morning, without federal assistance. Why aren’t we hearing more about that? It seems to be a huge blow to Paulson’s “act now! last chance!” rhetoric; apparently there are buyers out there for a lot of this stuff, but they need time to sort things out.”

    I’m wondering how much the SEC’s easing of mark-to-market played in this. Wachovia still has all their Golden West crap debt on the books – has Wells found a buyer for it? If the house could just hold off for a couple more days, maybe the Apocalypse might just be averted…

  14. “Black lawmakers said personal calls from senator Barack Obama helped switch them from ‘no’ to ‘yes'”
    groupthink
    Groupthink
    GROUPTHINK

  15. Warren, is that from Time Bandits?

  16. Uh, I mean Eric the Viking. Got my ex-Python films mixed up for a moment.

  17. the “calls are 50/50 for/against” is total bullshit being told by people trying to give themselves cover for thier unpopular vote.

    I’ve been calling congressional offices for the past 3 days, and every staffer I talk to who is answering the phone says that the vast majority of calls are against the bailout.

    Just one more lie told by politicians to ignore their constituents.

  18. The proper shorthand for Episiarch is ?pe?.

    The representatives who plan to switch their votes were bought off by pork. Period. So they’re willing to change their votes–which were generally based on the idea that this bailout was bad for America–so that kids’ arrows don’t get taxed any more.

  19. If this thing passes, I expect a lot of “main street” bankruptcies in 2009, because it will move the “crisis” from the credit market into the capital market.

  20. The proper shorthand for Episiarch is ?pe?.

    Actually, ProL, I was saber. Epee is for prima donnas, foil is for short dudes, but saber is for the manics.

  21. burt, maybe they’re counting calls from the press, the administration, and their congressional leaders as calls in support of the bailout. This is Congress, shady accounting practices are the norm.

  22. “maniacs”

    I actually can spell, sometimes.

  23. The financiers are snookering us again. We, the taxpayers, will never see that money once Congress caves in to special interests, (as usual). If we try to get it back by taxing these businesses, then they will take the good parts of their portfolios and flee to other countries. Suckers!

    If we use that money to enhance social security, then all of the retirees that lost their retirement funds in the stock market will at least be guaranteed a reasonably comfortable retirement. (The only ones who will still be unhappy are the ones trying to retire to their mansions.)

    Finally! Congress has found the money to make social security work.

    Let Congress know that if they get fooled by this bailout, then the only thing for voters to do is punish congress the way it was punished for the gulf war.

    Bryant Arms

  24. NYC should just rename Wall Street “Main Street”. Let the jingoists chew on them apples.

  25. Okay you lurking Leftoids, are you going to keep the secret depression a secret or is your plan to watch the President start it as soon as he signs this crazy bill into law?

  26. The two “legitimate” candidates for President are Barack Obama and John McCain. That’s pretty fucking depressing.

  27. Epee, foil, and saber are like flag football. Full-contact rattan is for real men.

  28. So three pages of new law has now gone up to 450 pages, and $700 billion of giveaways has now gone up to at least $800 billion (who knows what the real number is).

    Wow, it’s really improved!

  29. Epee, foil, and saber are like flag football. Full-contact rattan is for real men.

    I guess you’ve never taken a full force belly cut with no suit on before.

  30. Bryant Arms,
    I fail to see how the return on a $700 billion boondoggle would be enough to cover trillions of dollars in social security liabilities.

  31. economist,

    Don’t they cover fedmath in Econ school any more?

  32. Bryant Arms,
    Plus, given that only about half of the people who vote pay net taxes, I’m not holding my breath for the “punishment” of politicians who waste taxpayer money.
    Isn’t democracy great? I’m so glad we aren’t like those stodgy white landowning patriarchal elitist founding fathers.

  33. So they’re willing to change their votes–which were generally based on the idea that this bailout was bad for America–so that kids’ arrows don’t get taxed any more.

    I, for one, applaud this addition to the bill, which will do much to close our juvenile archery gap with Japan.

  34. When I see them fund my Guns for Kids program, then I might warm up to this bill.

  35. Guy Montag,
    They still cover basic fedarithmetic, like 2+2=5 and fedalgebra like (200million)times(X)divided by(200million)=whatever Congress says it equals, but not fedcalculus anymore.

  36. I guess you’ve never taken a full force belly cut with no suit on before.

    Nope, but I assume this is considered an “error” and not normal practice.

    I have taken a full force shot to the nuts on several occaisions. Even with a cup, this is a rather unpleasant experience.

  37. If my Congressman would listen and get my “free beer for guys who posted as ‘economist’ on web blogs before October 1, 2008” provision inluded in the bill, I might warm up to it.

  38. “The key to flipping House votes is not anything Obama or McCain have[sic!]done…”

  39. Nope, but I assume this is considered an “error” and not normal practice.

    Well, the dude who was running me through drills had caught me macking on his girlfriend at a party the night before. So I also do not think they were errors. The welts were the size of your pinkie. Pain is fun!

  40. In any case, claiming that things bought with taxpayer money are controlled by taxpayers is an egregious lie. Everything bought by the government is controlled by voters, who know fuck-all what to do with it.

  41. Tulpa | October 3, 2008, 10:06am | #
    Warren, is that from Time Bandits?

    No, but I like the way you’re thinking.

  42. And no, it’s not Eric the Viking either. Think more modern.

  43. oh shit economist is on another rant just ignore just ignore just ignore….

  44. So is it still a good thing that they didn’t get the bailout passed earlier if now they’re going to pass it but with added pork?

  45. Warren, 28 Days Later?

    It’s killing me that I don’t know this.

  46. Oh, right, I just remembered, in fedmath
    (700billion)>(10trillion). How stupid of me!

  47. Millions wrote and called to say No! and still the Senate said Yes? It is time for a housecleaning! Time to show them that they work for Main Street, not Wall Street.

    Based on quick analysis, it looks like there are 2-4 Senators who voted Yes who are in tight races, and 3 or 4 more who are vulnerable. In the House, the analysis is similar, 7 or 8 vulnerable races where a little bit of influence might make all the difference. Of course, that number is likely to get higher today or tomorrow. Which Representatives do you think can most easily be defeated?

    Targeting these so-called representatives of the people, with print and radio ads highlighting their betrayal, could really make an impact on their chances for re-election — and put the fear of constituency back into the Washington elite.

    Are you interested in making it happen? There isn’t much time before the election, so it will take funds and effort. Can you participate by offering time, skills or most importantly funds? Let us know.

    Contact the Constituent Response Team at constituentresponse@gmail.com.

  48. In any case, claiming that things bought with taxpayer money are controlled by taxpayers is an egregious lie. Everything bought by the government is controlled by voters,

    Not really. Everything bought by the government is owned and controlled by the government. I’m a voter, and I don’t have any say whatsoever in what the government does with its assets.

  49. Reinmoose,
    I kind of expected this anyway. In fact, I have a theory that if the House had passed the bill as it was, the Senate would have blocked it to get more pork added before finally passing it.

    I’m starting to figure out the game.

    The only way to win is to steal as much from the other players as you can before they steal it back and then some.

  50. Warren, 28 Days Later?

    BZZZZZZZZ
    Sorry no, thank you for playing.

    It’ll come to you in a flash.

  51. Can we get some Shelley, or maybe some Poe instead?

    “What about Chaucer?”
    “Just not Poe, ok?”

    So is it still a good thing that they didn’t get the bailout passed earlier if now they’re going to pass it but with added pork?

    Reinmoose, try to remember the wisdom of the debate last night. More spending is good. Along with no gay marriage and a crush on Israel, that is one thing that we can all agree on, I think.

  52. RC,
    My point was that a taxpayer who pays $10,000 a year to the federal government gets no more say in elections than the deadbeat who gets $10,000 a year in federal assistance. Therefore, elections are skewed towards wasting taxpayer money. As I have mentioned before, I think that one house of Congress should be elected by popular vote, while the other house should have elections in which the weight of an individuals vote depends on how much he or she pays in taxes. This would tend to make the government less inclined to spend tax dollars on stupid shit like a $700 billion bailout.

  53. Well, the dude who was running me through drills had caught me macking on his girlfriend at a party the night before. So I also do not think they were errors.

    Got it. Not a normal competition experience.

  54. Yeah, I know, I’m a reactionary.

  55. Come on, guys. Incredibles. Jeez.

  56. Along with no gay marriage and a crush on Israel, that is one thing that we can all agree on, I think.

    What? No WOD!? Why do you hate children Dagny T.?

  57. Warren, I believe that would be The Inedibles for $500?

  58. Ahh. Too late. That’s what I get for reading all the comments before answering?

  59. Along with no gay marriage and a crush on Israel, that is one thing that we can all agree on, I think

    Please tell me they didn’t both agree on this.

    Got it. Not a normal competition experience.

    It was a normal practice experience. Our coach loved to use pain as a motivator. I never let my elbow stray, and you know why? Because he smashed it enough times that I will never forget to keep it in.

  60. SugarFree | October 3, 2008, 11:06am | #
    Come on, guys. Incredibles. Jeez.

    DING DING DING
    We have a winner!

    And for guessing the correct Mystery Quote player SugarFree wins a lifetime supply of dept and taxes along with a huge subsidy on HFCS

  61. I don’t know about Dagny T., but I think children are smelly, whiny, little snotrags. However, I do not hate children, I just sort of dislike them.

  62. I’m also uncompassionate

  63. SugarFree wins a lifetime supply of debt and taxes along with a huge subsidy on HFCS

    NNNNOOOOOO! Cruel vicissitudes of fate!

  64. Come on, guys. Incredibles. Jeez.

    As much as I appreciate Brad Bird’s work, I must reserve my limited memory capacity for Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Always Sunny, and Arrested Development quotes.

  65. What? No WOD!? Why do you hate children Dagny T.?

    Ha! Interesting that Biden remained conspicuously silent on his drug warrior past. Can some optimism be gleaned from the fact that he wasn’t confident enough in the public reaction to bring it up?

    Please tell me they didn’t both agree on this.

    They sure did. It was a big, intervention-y love-fest.

  66. Reinmoose, try to remember the wisdom of the debate last night. More spending is good. Along with no gay marriage and a crush on Israel, that is one thing that we can all agree on, I think.

    I definitely got all of those things out of the debate last night. I also got:

    Can you believe that some people actually think the FREE MARKET will provide alternative sources of energy? HA! What assholes!

    “John McCain was for deregulation”
    “No! Don’t say such horrible things about him!”

    “We respect everyone in the room who served in the military, and will go to great lengths to say ‘I respect your/his opinion and service to our country, but…’ every time we want to disagree with them”

  67. All this just really makes me want to pull my teeth out, one by one, with my fingers

  68. Everything bought by the government is controlled by voters

    That is the big lie that makes every nastiness done by the federal government possible. WE are not THEM. I find it helps to always mentally replace the phrase “the government” with “a better-armed and more vicious Mafia with good PR” to lend clarity to what they’re doing to me.

    “The government passed a bailout bill today to aid Wall Street” might almost sound benign.

    “A better-armed and more vicious Mafia with good PR passed a bailout bill today to aid Wall Street” brings a better sense of what is about to happen.

  69. All this just really makes me want to pull my teeth out, one by one, with my fingers

    Dude, that’s disgusting! Just stop!

    They sure did. It was a big, intervention-y love-fest.

    See why I don’t watch?!? SEE?!?

  70. Everything bought by the government is controlled by voters

    Yeah. And the CEO of **company name here** acts always and exclusively in the best interests of the people who actually own the company by which he is employed.

  71. Dude, that’s disgusting! Just stop!

    You Americans are so uptight

  72. It’s a European thing!

  73. My point was . . .

    I’m with ya, economist. I’m just quibbling over the semantics of “ownership” and “control.”

  74. Hey, now California wants a bailout too! What a surprise.

  75. “The change from 10 to 1 anti-bailout calls and e-mails to 50/50 anti/pro-bailout calls is what’s greasing the tracks.”

    I thought it was the last minute pork barrel add-ins that greased the tracked…

  76. economist,

    I’m also uncompassionate

    Something we can agree on, at least on the macro level.

    I am socially liberal because I don’t care.

  77. Fluffy, I guess CA joined the Ponzi scheme too late, expecting that property tax revenue could never drop.

  78. I’m wondering how much the SEC’s easing of mark-to-market played in this. Wachovia still has all their Golden West crap debt on the books – has Wells found a buyer for it?

    Oh yes, I think they’ve found a buyer for it. “The board” is just now getting ready to vote to authorize the purchase.

  79. Much as I’d like to divorce the federal govt from the American people, that’s a cop out. If the people really wanted change they could vote the current bums out.

    As byzantine as the ballot access and campaign finance laws are, the barriers to Americans taking back control of the govt would be insignificant if the will were there. But the vast majority are content with bitching about politicians, so long as they can continue to watch American Idol in color while chasing their double cheeseburgers with sugar water every night.

    Ignorance is not innocence.

  80. The blog really needs a away to block Weigel articles.

    I like how he missed that Palin has started to link the Fannie Mae/Sub-prime mess to Obama, Bidin and the democrats.

  81. I got an CYA email from Arlen Specter’s office explaining why he felt it was necessary to set aside his principles and vote for it. Interesting, given I’ve never heard from this guy before. And funny, given I don’t live in Pennsylvania. Hehe…go to hell.

  82. I once shot a $6 million arrow into the air. Where it landed…in my derri?re. But it first glanced off a $192 million crate of rum.

  83. Call the US House switchboard NOW and tell your Congressperson to vote no! (202) 224-3121

  84. Well Halloween is almost upon us and the search for the scariest costume starts. This year if you really want to scare folks I would suggest dress up as the past CEO of Fanny Mae, Freddy Mac or Lehman Brothers. People will recognize you right away because of the limo your riding in and the golden parachute strapped to your back. You must also barge up to every door while kicking the little people out of the way. It’s very important to remember that when you arrive at the door and the person scolds you for your abuse of the little ones, you must say “Sorry it wasn’t my fault and by the way I need at least half your candy before I leave…you owe it to me, but don’t worry if you can’t the government will fill my coffers.
    If you really want to have some fun at this time of the year here’s a plan. I always get weird looks when I do this. Here’s what you need…a spray bottle filled with water, a long dirty trench coat and a very crazed shaky appearance. During the busiest time of the day, go to the store. Before you go in spray your face with the water. Now go a get a bag of apples and a package of razor blades. Head up to the check up line, with water slowly dripping down your face, start rolling your eyes, throw in a few shaky jerky movements, then turn to a few folks in line and say something like…” I love Halloween, hope there’s tons of kids this year”.

    Have a safe and happy halloween kids and thanks for the read.
    Bryan Cox

  85. How is it that Congress, Senate, and the President can pass a bill that allows the using of tax payers money to buy up a bunch of failed mortgages (that was originally the tax payers mortgages) and then take those mortgages and sell them back to the same companies or same type of companies, make a profit, and the tax payers get what? The right to live in this home for another 5 years. and if it fails then America is right back where it is today.
    Might I remind the american people on a statement made by George Bush Jr. “Iraq is a threat to america, It has weapons of mass destruction, and saddam hussien harbors terrorists from Al-Qaida and the taliban.” 1 year after invading this country we found 0 weapons of mass destruction, 0 terrorists involved with Al-Qaida, and we destroyed a country. This lie from president Bush has cost the american tax payers billions of dollars per month for the past 7 years. George Bush has lied to us before, and he is lieing to us again. It is a political move from the republicans to try and make McCain look like an economic hero. They are hoping that if this bill passes, that McCain will get full credit for it, But if it fails it will all be Obama’s fault with the help of the democrats.
    Congress, Senate, And the president does not care what the tax payers think. They are going to pass a bill to use our hard earned money and there is nothing we can do to stop this. We will never get to vote on the bill. And they could care less if they get voted out of office. Well at least 1 man cant get voted back in regardless of the action of the bill. We should treat President Bush the same way he treated the american people when they were getting forclosed upon and ordered to move out. After all he is a lame duck.
    If we vote the ones that pass the bill out of office they still collect a paycheck. So what do they have to lose? The way to fix this problem is to first gather the ones responsible for all of this up and charge them with the crime of fraud. They made a deal sound good to the tax payer and at the same time they were laughing behind their backs. I say bring back squaters rights, tell the people that lost their homes to move back into those homes and let the mortgage brokers and wall street take it the same way they gave it.
    Why leave a home sit and rot while no one lives in it because the banks can’t sell them. Stop the bail out, put the people back in those forclosed homes, give the bankers 7 years to try and loan more money to sell the home they want to keep from the ones they swindled out of it. If there is any truth that credit has dried up and a bail-out (rescue) is needed , then the people will have a home for the price of the mental anguish they had to go through during the forclosure and the mental anguish of seeing that moment coming.
    My heart goes out to those people for being so proud of finally making that american dream come true, Only to have that dream turn into a nightmare because of greed and fraud of bankers, and mortgage lenders, and then the White house trying to make a profit off the bankers and mortgage lenders deceit, at the price of the same people that were deceived!!
    May god bless all of the tax payers.

  86. My heart goes out to those people for being so proud of finally making that american dream come true,

    I don’t know that the American dream ever included having a house you can’t afford.

    Only to have that dream turn into a nightmare because of greed and fraud of bankers, and mortgage lenders,

    Very little fraud has actually been shown by the lenders in this whole mess, you know. Just a lot of people playing the bubble game, sure that they could lay off their inflated assets on a Greater Fool before the bubble popped.

    and then the White house trying to make a profit off the bankers and mortgage lenders deceit, at the price of the same people that were deceived!!

    Don’t forget to include Congress. They’re in it up to their eyeballs. And the people paying the price aren’t the poor widdle borrowers, its the taxpayers.

  87. Yes, we are doomed…

    Everyone take a look at this article of Peterman’s Eye. It is very insighful!

    http://www.petermanseye.com/anthologies/what-was-learned/334-the-16th-amendment

  88. I’m going to agree that inaction is worse than passing legislation to help the problem, but they rushed this through congress, and it leaves us with policy that is not as effective as it potentially could have been. The only candidate that foresaw this was the LIbertarian Bob Barr. He is the best option for our President. He has a great view of how to actually change our country, rather than subtle changes from our current administration. As the simililarities of these two candidates are growing more clear, it seems that a third party candidate is our best option. Vote Bob Barr!

  89. Yeah I’m voting for Barr. But what a fucking wet blanket he is. He should be all over this shit. Instead he concedes the argument and blames forced lending. And fuck Paul too while we’re at it. If he hadn’t gone skipping off the deep end he could be ruling the debate right now.

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