Friday, October 3, 2008

President Bush to Sign $700-billion Rescue Package

The House of Representatives approved a $700-billion bailout of the financial system, and President Bush is expected to sign the bill into law this afternoon (more links at Memeorandum):

The House today approved a $700-billion financial rescue plan - sweetened by $110 billion in tax cuts - on a 263-171 vote four days after rejecting it in a move that stunned both Wall Street and Washington.

"We've made this bill better," said House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio. "Is it perfect? No. But it clearly is better than it was a week ago."

House leaders were stunned Monday when members rejected the plan, 228-205, with Republicans charging that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) had politicized the issue by blaming President Bush's policies for the financial mess on Wall Street that has brought the economic system to a tipping point.

President Bush, in a Rose Garden comment after the vote, pledged to sign the legislation when it reaches his desk. He doled out praise to Democratic and Republican leaders alike. "By coming together on this legislation we have acted boldly," he said. "We have shown the world that the United States of America will stabilize our financial markets and maintain a leading role in the global economy."
I know many conservatives will rise up in outrage over the "bailout," and I'll have more on the partisan and practical implications of the legislation in upcoming essays.

However, readers should check out Kimberley Strassel's essay at today at the Wall Street Journal, "
What Leadership Looks Like." Strassel discusses Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, a GOP fiscal conservative who voted for the bill after of years of dissent in Washington over Congress' Fannie and Freddie enablers:

The congressman was no fan of Mr. Paulson's plan, and initially rallied conservatives around a rival approach. When it became clear that the administration's approach was the only thing going, he spearheaded negotiations to rid it of its worst liberal elements and to include more taxpayer protections.

As credit spreads widened, he said he also realized this was a "Herbert Hoover moment, where he sat by and let a Wall Street crash turn into a Great Depression . . . There are times when free-markets stop and rational thinking goes out the window. It then isn't enough to be a laissez-faire conservative and let Rome burn . . . This bill is not perfect, but doing nothing is far worse than passing this bill."

Compare this to Mr. Ryan's GOP colleagues in Wisconsin. Jim Sensenbrenner and Tom Petri were among those 162 Republicans that let Fan and Fred bust the bank. Yet when this week's day of reckoning came, Mr. Petri complained it was a "half-baked plan," while Mr. Sensenbrenner declared he wouldn't "subsidize Wall Street." Oh, for this righteousness during the half-baked Fan-Fred subsidy days. And this from two guys in safe seats.

This has left Mr. Ryan alone to defend his position back home. It hasn't helped that his colleagues are spinning this as bravery, crowing that it was they who listened to constituents and they who acted on free-market principles. Never mind that these principles were nowhere in evidence back when it mattered. And never mind that should America crash, it will be the free market offered up as sacrifice to the regulatory mob.
What do you think?