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.