Last Friday's re-vote in the House on the financial bailout (excuse me, rescue/recovery) succeeded because 33 Democrats and 25 Republicans switched their votes from no to yes (one Democrat from Washington state switched from yes to no).
Many members of the Congressional Black Caucus credit the personal intervention of Senator Obama as motivating their switch. Correct me if I am wrong, but even though Senator McCain briefly "suspended" his campaign to deal with the financial crisis, can he actually point to how his efforts facilitated passage of this legislation?
The NY Times has a graphic of all the vote switchers.
This bill is painful by any measure. When deciding whom to be angry with regarding this crisis recognize that Congress is only partially responsible for this mess. Congress is somewhat culpable for the bailout - its' policies fed aggressive and irresponsible policies at Fannie Mac - and a Republican-fed ideological call for deregulation, deregulation, deregulation did not properly balance independence for the markets with concern for the public good. Yet, most of the blame for this crisis rests with the private sector.
Let us not forget our own greed in buying homes we could not afford. True, bankers snookered many homeowners with false promise of easy loan terms, but far too many Americans knew they were living beyond their means. The era of personal responsibility is over.
We can be mad at how Congress responds to the near collapse of our financial system, but we should not be mad that it must respond. To not respond would be to invite ruin on the national economy. Ruin because credit will become tighter and even more expensive. Credit is the grease in our national economy and without it, the American economy would ground to a halt. Ruin because rising unemployment will become the de rigueur economic news.
Some will say that we (the average taxpayer) should not have to bail out Wall St. for its' excesses. I agree, but I can think of no better alternative. However, the taxpayer should be recompensed with ownership in these new companies in the form of divided earnings until the $700 bn is repaid (really it is much more when you factor in Freddie, Fannie and AIG).
Finally, there is a reason President Bush fought so hard for this bailout. His reputation is already in the toilet because of the abject failures of Iraq and Hurricane Katrina. When faced with a crisis starting to mirror the Great Depression he did not want to go down in history as the next Herbert Hoover. President Hoover, if you remember, was the president who sat idly by the first three years of the Depression, insisting it was not the federal government's role to maintain order in the financial system.
Nonetheless, comparisons between Hoover and Bush are unfair to Hoover. At least Hoover did not start a war he could not finish.