What killed the Republican Party in this election? I can't claim the credit, much as I would like to (don't have enough influence). Rush Limbaugh's tepid endorsement of John McCain did not do it, as Limbaugh sucked it up and tried to help McCain as best he could (rejecting my position on the basis that McCain was best for the country--gad as he is, and on the basis that Limbaugh does not like to lose (justifying supporting a loser like McCain). More enthusiastic support from Limbaugh would have not been credible. It would not have helped McCain--only hurt Limbaugh. Limbaugh's mistake was fiddling while Rome burned--while McCain was building momentum for the nomination and Huckabee was taking conservative votes away from Romney. I said so in foresight--not hindsight--and I was right.
Sarah Palin? That is laugh out loud funny. Sarah Palin did not cost McCain the election. The worst you can say is that she did not do enough to save it for him.
Nope. You can take it to the bank. I am wrong on very few things, and this is not one of them. McCain lost the election mainly because of that perceived economic meltdown caused by the panic of Paulson, Bernanke, and President Bush--especially Paulson.
The three weeks that we had that farce of a "debate" on that Wall Street bailout bill, and the economic meltdown that occurred because of the fear used to sell the Wall Street bailout bill, doomed McCain and the Republicans in Congress alike. Today, Paulson admitted that the whole three weeks of panic talk was all a sham. See the previous entry.
The "solution" was obviously a sham, since Paulson has abandoned it. But that very abandonment of the original "plan" shows that there was not the kind of desperate "urgency" to pass this bailout that Paulson, and President Bush (at Paulson's advice), claimed was necessary. That whole three week farce in Congress, which exposed McCain as having no clue what to do on the economy, was not even about the right "issue". The "issue" should have been about direct socialism (Feds buying stock in financial institutions), and not about purchasing toxic assets (which seems to be a Wall Street bad idea that just was never going to fly, in the end). Wall Street, of course, once it perceived it could run the country, had lots of other ideas after that, as Wall Street (utter failures all, including the analysis of the original Paulson plan) asserted essentially the right to rule the country's economy.
The evidence is that it did not have to be. Certainly, the three week farce of a Wall Street "bailout bill" did not have to be.
What if Paulson and Bush had come out and said that "all we have to fear is fear itself", and had announced a series of measures (preferably back as far as Bear Stearns and Lehman Borthers? Remember, McCain and the Republicans were still in good shape after even the Lehman Brothers failure. The public was handling it. What the public could not handle was the panic by Paulson and Bush, and the fear campaign to pass the useless (at least in terms of the plan presented) bailout bill. Was Paulson a stealth operative for Obama and the Democrats, and why is it that President Bush has sabotaged the Republican Party over the last 4 years? I am not a "conspiracy theorist", but you could come up with a lulu of a conspiracy theory here.
You say "something had to be done". Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe we would have been better off saying that it was a Wall Street problem, and taking nothing more than Wall Street action (banning short selling, after Bear Stearns, or in the midst of the Bear Stearns short selling run that doomed Bear Stearns, banning day trading, etc.). We were not obviously in a recession then. It might have worked.
Say you did not have confidence that treating this as a Wall Street, computer trading problem would not fully have worked. There is, after all, a housing problem (burst bubble), but we were apparently handling it (before the Wall Street equivalent of "runs" on the bank, and the crisis of confidence created by Paulson and Bush).
Well, it turned out that the most effective measures were not part of the bailout. The Fed guaranteed commercial paper, and interbank loans, all without need of the "bailout bill".
What has Paulson proposed now? He (forgetting the bank stock purchases, where several of the banks supposedly tried to say they did not need the money) is proposing to set up an "entity" to guarantee consumer loans for autos, credit cards (say what? This seems stupid--typical of Paulson--to encourage people in excessive credit card debt), and other consumer debts. This, of course, attempts to do what I (correctly) said the original bailout plan did not do: Directly encourage loans.
I don't think you would have to have "scared" Congress into this, probably combined with some individual homeowner relief. Democrats would have been glad to do it, and Republicans would probably have gone along if PResident Bush had said that he and Paulson had worked out a plan to help people (especially if they had done it before the political conventions, at the time Democrats were proposing measures).
What if Bush and Paulson had come out and made the case that all we had to fear was fear, and that the economy was fundamentally sound, but that Wall Street and financial institutions were creating a "credit crunch"? What if they had said this was mainly a Wall Street problem, but that the way to keep it from being a "mains street" problem was to take certain measured, reasonable actions to help consumers get loans and limit Wall Street excesses--along with reasonable measures to help banks avoid a credit crunch (commercial paper and interbank loan guarantees, etc.)?
Would we even have had a recession? Maybe not. If we did have one, it would not have probably been obvious before the election (if confidence had stayed up, as it well might have with confidence from our leaders). What if Democrats had played politics with a proposed "measured" response? As stated, the things that have already been done did not need the "bailout" bill, except for the bank "stock purchases", which the banks themselves seem doubtful about. They could have waited, and there was no need for that panic socialistic proposal. Note that I am not really endorsing a massive consumer bailout/loan bill, but it would have been better than what actually happened. If politics killed it, before the election, it is not clear which party that would have hurt. Further, the other measures would avoid the idea that "nothing" was being done (including the bans on short selling and day trading, and for those that say those violate the "free market", while supporting the socialism that actually occurred, you should simply be shot).
Whether you agree with everything I have said is irrelevant. The key thing was an appearance of confidence, and a lack of panic. The actual panic of Paulson and Bush was what doomed Republicans this year. And Bush had power over Paulson. Indeed, he should have fired Paulson, or (if that seemed to be a panic inducing measure) pretty much demanded that Paulson yield to other opinions, and avoid panic.
Dan (see Slapinions comment to previous entry) suggests that "Paulson is an idiout." Indeed he is. But is not Bush at least as much of an idiot, if not more, to let this guy panic the country, and doom the Republican Party this election? I think so.
My brother (trucking company co-owner) is of the opinion that this idiocy of President Bush, in giving those speeches about how bad things are in support of Paulson, confirmed that he (president Bush) is the worst President in history. I continue to believe Bush is only the 4th worst in my lifetime (behind Carter, LBJ, and Nixon). But I am wavering. President Bush cannot leave to soon. It is past time for him to go.
No "panic" was necessary, and it was badly counterproductive (in support of a "plan" now abandoned). No "socialism was necessary. If you just had to go with Big Government, the plan Paulson is now proposing (wtihout the seemingly unnecessary bank stock purchases) would have directly encouraged credit, while appearing to be a standard Big Government program (something like the "stimulus" and homeowner relief already passed).
My brother (trucking company again) notes that the economy was doing pretty well, after the stimulus checks, so long as confidence held up. That is why my brother thinks the recession was needless, and totally panic inspired. He is probably right. Even if he, and I, are wrong, it would not have been obvious (likely, anyway) until after the election, and any economic meltdown would have been contained. As it is, the panic reaction of Paulson and Bush created a panic reaction in the world markets. It is a textbook way not to govern a country. How can the people be "confident" if their leaders are not? Yes, the mainstream media and Democrats have done their share to undermine confidence, but what if Bush and Paulson had said that. What if they had said that there were some difficult, short term issues, but that there was every indication we could get through them? Until Paulson panicked, people were acting like they believed that. There was every reason fro them to believe that. Their confidence was undermined by their "leaders", and by their media.
In short, Dan (and others) cannot say "Paulson is an idiot", without saying "President Bush is an idiot". Unfortunately, I think both are ture (even though Bush has the excuse of not being the "expert", which does not excuse failing to realize where these particular "experts" had brought us).