by Daniel T. Zanoza, Executive Director
It's almost like a bad joke. One day a leading Republican in the U.S. Senate put his foot down. I'm not going to mention his name because at this point many of us believe all politicians are the same. The Republican was drawing a line in the sand regarding President-elect Barack Obama's urgent call for a stimulus package that would be voted on within the first 100 days of his administration. The member of the Senate, speaking for Republicans, said we'll go along with the $750 billion price tag, but we're drawing the line at $1 trillion. I don't have the exact quote here, but that really doesn't matter either. The Congressional fleecing of America's future will continue no matter which Party is in power and no matter what the American people say about it. Imagine, someone has the courage or audacity to draw the line at $1 trillion. There is an old saying in Chicago attributed to former Bears Coach Mike Ditka. Speaking of the team's frugal owner, Ditka once said, "George Halas threw nickels around like manhole covers." I suppose the opposite is true for the United States Congress. Members of the Senate and House of Reps. throw billions of dollars around like 25 cent poker chips, if there is such a thing.
The Bush administration wants to get its hands on the $350 billion left over from the Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) money. If you're not familiar with the acronym TARP, it is a convenient grammatical distraction for the word bail-out which was dreamt up by some enterprising Washington, D.C. bureaucrat. You see, the American people were overwhelmingly opposed to the welfare program which gave the first-half of the $750 billion installment to bankers who played a significant role in the financial crisis America now finds itself in. What was done with the money? Few people know, except for those who spent it like drunken sailors on shore leave. The truth has driveled out, however. We have learned solvent banks used some of the bail-out funds for a myriad of purposes--many of which had nothing to do with increasing the flow of credit. Some banks bought stock in foreign banking institutions. Others actually bought foreign banking institutions. But nobody really knows where the money went and if it was used for the purpose for which it was meant--if we truly ever knew what that purpose was in the first place.
Here's a bit of History 101. The primary cause for the Great Depression was the breach of fiduciary duty on behalf of many banking institutions. Whether you call it malpractice, malfeasance, misfeasance, nonfeasance or plain negligence, the actions of financial institutions drove America into a crisis which matched the Civil War in its severity. There were actually those who wondered if the free enterprise system would survive and our nation along with it. Add to this questionable lending practices, unchecked speculation in the stock market and a general attitude which said things were too good to go bad. Sound familiar? And it seems the same culprits who led the United States into a financial crisis--which lasted for more than a decade--are at it again.
A bit more history. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Americans were still suffering as the country went into the 1940's. Most historians agree the only thing that revived the U.S. economy was World War II and, as soon as it ended, again contrary to conventional wisdom, the country was once more plunged into a recession.
It is apparent our nation's leaders have learned nothing from history. Therefore, in the dark of night, expect Congress to release the second-half of the bail-out money to either Bush or Obama. This will be followed by a great deal of Monday morning quarterbacking from the media, just like what we heard when the original bail-out was first passed. Isn't is something? It's hard to find a politician who was in favor of that bail-out these days. Yet it happened and while the deficit increases and the national debt grows to incalculable numbers, they want to spend more. In fact, Obama will make Lyndon Johnson's Great Society look like a classroom experiment before he is done. Therefore, I'm in favor of letting Obama spend the second-half of the TARP money. Bush has done more than his share in his mad attempt to break the taxpayer's piggy bank.
The saddest aspect about the whole thing is it will get worse before it gets better. In fact, America may experience the second Great Depression before it's all over. At least we'll know who to blame.
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