- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Based on the rhetoric coming from Capitol Hill Republicans on President Bush’s bailout plan for the financial industry, it’s easy to tell what they think about the free market.

“Until housing prices level out naturally - not artificially through government interference - our financial crisis will not reach a conclusion,” Sen. John Kyl, Arizona Republican and former chairman of the Republican Policy Committee - the Senate’s fiscally conservative wing - said September 18. On Sept. 22, Mr. Kyl said, “I think the chances are better than 50-50 that we’ll get it done by the end of the week, and hopefully it won’t be bogged down with too many extraneous and costly provisions” - it being the $700 billion “government interference” plan that the administration proposed on Sept. 21.

House Minority Leader John Boehner said on Sept. 20: “Our economy is facing unprecedented financial challenges that could imperil the bank accounts, retirement savings, and jobs of countless Americans.” But doesn’t the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. insure bank deposits up to $100,000? Don’t Republicans still support private retirement savings accounts as a part of Social Security reform?

Mr. Boehner went on to say, “The administration has put forward a proposal to help the American people, and it is now incumbent on Congress to work together [to] solve this crisis.” Yes, it is incumbent upon Congress to help solve the crisis. But, no, not by giving $700 billion to the Treasury Department to spend on corporate welfare.

Some Republicans have even apologized for supporting the rescue plan, like Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, a real-estate magnate, former state commissioner of finance and former mayor of Chattanooga. “Obviously it is unpleasant for anyone of my philosophical bent to consider the steps they are proposing, but I believe these actions are necessary in order to ensure that this financial crisis doesn’t ripple through our economy and create distress, job displacement, and other failures that will hurt American families even more. I want to see the details of his proposal over the weekend, but I’m convinced this is the best of bad choices,” he said. It’s interesting that before he was actually seen details of the plan, Mr. Corker considered it the best bad choice. He even called it “must pass” legislation that he didn’t want politicians to turn into a “Christmas tree” to fund colloquial projects.

And then there are others. Sen. Jim DeMint told Congressional Quarterly on Sept. 22: “It looks like they will put it in a package with a continuing resolution with more stimulus and an energy package. If they do that, we’ll come up with ways to slow this down, at least to let people know what’s in it.” Can he really slow down the bailout juggernaut with economic stimulus and energy provisions in three days?

The Democrats, like some Republicans, have every intention of loading up the tree - the Christmas tree, that is - with all sorts of ornamental goodies for the college loan industry. Even job growth is on the Democrats’ table. Mrs. Pelosi said on Sept. 20: “As I told President Bush yesterday, we will also seek to protect lower- and middle-income Americans, who need to be protected from the fallout of the ongoing Wall Street crisis, by enacting an economic recovery package that creates jobs and returns growth to our economy.”

And where stands fiscal conservatism? The Washington Times reported yesterday that the Treasury Department added student loans, car loans, and credit-card debt to the bailout package.

To this, Mr. DeMint said, “It’s a sad fact, but Americans can no longer trust the economic information they are getting from this administration.” We won’t go that far. But truth and trust are hard sells inside the Beltway.

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