Amanda Ripley asks, why aren’t Americans buying the bailout?
Hell, I could tell you that. In fact, I already did. One year ago.
In September 2007, I wrote this. I argued (and some at The Chimp argued back at me at the time) that mid-term 2006 voters didn’t usher a Democratic Congress back just to end the occupation of Iraq, but to bring accountability, thereby ending the war. I also argued that, given the paper-thin majority in both houses, the only plausible way to actually end the occupation of Iraq was to use Congressional power in the hearing room rather than in session, that votes would get them nowhere and make them appear more feckless every time they brought one.
The $700 billion financial bailout package failed because most Americans wanted it to fail. Before the vote, members of Congress were getting calls 100 to 1 against the bill. The question is: why? It’s easy to see why bailing out rich bankers doesn’t feel super, but why, despite all the efforts of all of the country’s leaders to fill them with fear of an economic apocalypse, did Americans not see a failure to act as a serious threat to their livelihoods?
It’s the accountability, stupid.
When Hank Paulson comes out and says that there will be no punitive measures in relation to this effort, he’s not selling it, not to the American people, who have watched subpoenas flouted and failures decorated with medals. You don’t float a figure like $700 billion and just expect people to eat it unless you give them a reason and tell them that these fuckers are going to have to pay for what they’ve done. Give up a deal that gives the country equity in the banks. Send a few white rich old men to jail. Put Paulson and Bernake in a dunk tank on The Mall. Then maybe those nice people will quit bugging their Congressmen and go back to anxiously anticipating the new season of American Idol.
Someday, somebody is going to have to be held accountable for all of this happy horseshit.