- The Washington Times - Monday, September 28, 2009

BAILOUT BLUES

The top Republican on the House Financial Services Committee predicts that Congress won’t extend the government’s $700 billion Wall Street bailout program past its scheduled year-end expiration.

When asked on C-SPAN’s “Newsmakers” program Sunday if there was enough support on Capitol Hill to let the program sunset after Dec. 31, Rep. Spencer Bachus said, “I think we do.”

“We have a lot of our colleagues who agree with us, I think, more every day,” the Alabama lawmaker said.

Mr. Bachus added that “any legislation we pass that I’m a party to, and the Republicans in the House are a party to, won’t have the bailout of individual companies.”

“We believe we ought to get out of the business of taxpayers coming in and assuming the risk…. The debt is still there, it’s just been shifted from the private sector to the U.S. government, and therefore, the taxpayer.”

Despite differences of opinion between Democrats and Republicans on how best to update Wall Street regulatory laws, Mr. Bachus said he thinks Congress would pass meaningful legislation on the matter this year.

“There is consensus between the American people and, I think, a growing majority of Congress that we’re not going to bail out any individual companies,” he said. “I think there is an agreement in Congress that we need to do a better job of protecting consumers, and we can’t do it by having eight or nine different [financial regulatory] agencies trying to do the job, because if everybody is in charge, then no one is in charge.”

He added that he isn’t in favor of a Democratic plan to create a new agency to oversee Wall Street regulation.

“You can’t just go out and create a new agency without any expertise, without any understanding of safety and soundness and tell them to go protect the consumer,” he said.

CONSPIRACY THEORY

The “vast right-wing conspiracy” that doggedly went after the Clinton administration is alive, well and aimed at President Obama, says former President Bill Clinton.

“Oh, you bet. Sure, it is,” said Mr. Clinton on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday. “It’s not as strong as it was, because America’s changed demographically … it’s like when they accused me of murder and all that stuff they did.”

Still, conspiracies targeted at Mr. Obama - including accusations that he was born in Africa and is a secret Muslim - are “as virulent as it was,” Mr. Clinton said.

The former president said such unfair attacks ultimately come back to bite the Republican Party.

“They may be hurting President Obama. They can take his numbers down, they can run his opposition up. But fundamentally, he and his team have a positive agenda for America,” he said.

“The [Republican] agenda seems to be wanting him to fail, and that’s not a prescription for a good America. We actually need a credible debate about what’s the right balance between continuing to expand the economy through stimulus and beginning to move back to fiscal balance. We need a credible debate about what’s the best way to get to universal [health care] coverage.”

TIME MOVES ON

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates used to keep a clock on his desk that ticked off the days he had left to serve in the Bush administration. But since staying on as Pentagon chief for President Obama, Mr. Gates has abandoned the “countdown clock.”

“I threw the clock out. It was obviously useless,” Mr. Gates said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”

The secretary said that he and Mr. Obama agreed to leave open the length of time he would remain at the Pentagon.

When asked if he would stay in the position for the “long haul,” Mr. Gates replied, “We’ll see.”

Republican Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, who also appeared on the program, said he hopes Mr. Gates stays on the job “for a long time.”

Former President George W. Bush appointed Mr. Gates to succeed Donald H. Rumsfeld as Pentagon chief. Mr. Gates has been defense secretary since December 2006.

NUCLEAR IRAN

President Obama appreciates ‘teachable moments,’ so let’s all discuss this week’s lesson in arms-control theory and practice,” according to a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

“The President brought his soaring sermon about ‘a world without [nuclear] weapons’ before the U.N. General Assembly. He called for a new arms-control treaty and won Security Council support for a vague resolution on proliferation. On cue [Friday], Iran showed the world what determined rogues think about such treaties. On the evidence of his Presidency so far, Mr. Obama will not let that reality interfere with his disarmament dreams.

“The disclosure that Iran has a second facility to make bomb-grade fuel, the latest of many Tehran deceptions, isn’t exactly surprising. Administration officials say U.S. intelligence has known about the secret underground plant near the city of Qom for years. Iran sought other hidden sites after the Natanz facility was discovered in 2002, and now officials say they suspect there are other facilities, too….

“The past decade of international efforts to monitor, control and sanction the Iranian nuclear program is a story of fecklessness. … Despite this violation of Iran’s treaty commitments, the world community has since done nothing to punish, much less stop, Iran’s nuclear program….

“Mr. Obama used his global forum this week not to rally the world to stop today’s nuclear rogues, but to offer lovely visions of disarmament in some distant future. In the bitter decades of the Cold War, we learned the hard way that the only countries that abide by disarmament treaties are those that want to be disarmed. It’s becoming increasingly, and dangerously, obvious that Mr. Obama wasn’t paying attention.”

BAD HAIR WEEK

“This was not a good week for public figures with notable heads of hair,” blogs Arianna Huffington on her liberal Web site, the Huffington Post.

“The boyishly coiffed Tom DeLay caused jaws to drop all across America with his rump-shaking cha-cha to ‘Wild Thing’ on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ Breck-Girl-turned-Cad John Edwards saw his already-tarnished reputation further sullied by the release of details of his affair with Rielle Hunter, including a promised post-Elizabeth rooftop wedding featuring the Dave Matthews Band. And the idiosyncratically maned Donald Trump made headlines by allowing Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi to pitch a tent on his Bedford, New York, estate.

“But it was follicly-challenged columnist David Broder who took the prize for the week’s most ludicrous act: criticizing President Obama for ‘his determination to rely on rational analysis, rather than narrow decisions,’ ” Mrs. Huffington said.

“It was enough to make your hair stand on end.”

Sean Lengell can be reached at slengell@ washingtontimes.com.

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