Alex Massie

Bailout Politics

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So, no deal in Washington. NYT account here; WaPo here. Politico's story contains this detail that, unsurprisingly, has been making waves:

According to one GOP lawmaker, some House Republicans are saying privately that they’d rather “let the markets crash” than sign on to a massive bailout.

“For the sake of the altar of the free market system, do you accept a Great Depression?” the member asked.

Well. I hadn't realised that was the choice. House Republicans are obviously being blamed for the impasse, but I rther think there are plenty of Democrats who will be content enough with the current state of play. They don't like this either. Certainly they don't like it enough to risk going ahead without GOP votes to give them political cover.

As a senior Democratic leadership aide told me yesterday, the plan was to treat the bail-out as though it were a vote to award Congress a pay rise. Let's have 110 of your guys and 110 of our chaps and we'll all hold hands and jump together. The general view, I think, was that "This thing is a flaming pile of shit, but we have to do it."

Trouble is: Congressmen are wary of signing on to an unpopular deal. "Members are scared as hell. Calls are literally running 200-1 against.  And this is not phony Astroturf*, its genuine taxpayer outrage. Getting a deal is one thing; getting the votes quite another."

That was yesterday's mood anyway. Let's see what today brings. Hope you're not too nervous about Wall Street's opening bell...

*ie, fake grass roots outrage, manufactured by a given pressure group in an effort to sway wobbly Congressional votes.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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