The last time the Democrats all started bleating "No blank check - No blank check" it meant only one thing. They were signing a check and scribbling a bunch of nonsense in the memo line.
If history is any guide, we can expect a bill to come out of Congress requiring that the Secretary of the Treasury make a report to Congress within three months on all areas covered by the legislation, with the exception of those he chooses not to report on.
In particular, he will be required, if he chooses, to report on the progress being made toward compelling families that have lost their homes to pay for their own foreclosures. Fair is fair, and the Iraqis are going to start paying for their own occupation someday very soon.
The Treasury Secretary will be required to report, if he chooses, on key benchmarks, including equitable sharing among all plutocrats of our Social Security savings. This is a question of fair and equitable distribution of resources and might serve as a model for the still badly needed Iraq hydro-carbon law, which is also purely about fairness. The same goes for Medicare and the money raised from selling off our schools.
At least that's the pessimistic prediction. On the other hand, there is an important variable that has been altered in this case. We are talking about throwing a trillion dollars of our grandchildren's money at people who do not need it, but this time we're proposing to do it for something other than war. There are no flags waving or war music playing for this one. As a result, it's possible to see things like an article on CNN that begins:
"NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- 'NO NO NO. Not just no, but HELL NO,' writes Richard, a reader from Anchorage, Alaska. 'This is robbery pure and simple,' Anna from Denver posted on CNNMoney.com's TalkBack blog this weekend. 'It's our money! Let these companies die,' added Claudio from Plainville, Conn."
Similar comments on wars are simply not published by CNN in the heat of an invasion. Will our so-called representatives notice the difference? I wouldn't count on it. The smart investment right now is in a moving van pointed toward Canada.
I just read Thomas Frank's "The Wrecking Crew," and his central point is a timely one. When neocons wreck government they consider it a victory. Scandalous earmarks on bills are a good thing because they make people hate government, which is the higher purpose of all governmental malfeasance. When FEMA proves incompetent, success has been achieved, because the goal is to convince everyone that government is incompetent, that corporations are where all skill and responsibility can be found.
"People being pissed off at government is the very ore of right-wing discontent," Frank writes. "Corrupt earmarks, inserted by conservatives, lead to conservative victory. But, you protest, nobody really falls for this. Everyone knows that the guy who got the 'Bridge to Nowhere' earmark was a conservative Republican. People know where the blame belongs, and they punish the malefactor.
"Maybe so. But remember the long-term effects of Watergate. While the immediate consequences of Nixon's outrageous behavior were jail sentences for several conservative Republicans and the election of a bumper crop of liberals to Congress in 1974, Watergate permanently poisoned public attitudes toward government and stirred up the wave that swept Ronald Reagan into office six years later -- and made antigovernment cynicism the default American political sentiment."
All of which puts a different perspective on a government proposal to hand governmental levels of funding over to Wall Street. If the proposal goes through and the companies survive, the credit goes to Wall Street and the crushing debt requiring slashing of useful services goes to government. If the proposal fails, it also succeeds, by turning people against big government spending and interference in the Marketplace. After all, this proposal is "socialism," and if you oppose it, then you certainly must oppose such identical horrors as "socialized medicine."
For neocons, this was an easy decision. When you control the media, and your opponents are Democrats, there's almost no way for you to lose. So why wouldn't you propose borrowing a trillion dollars to hand out to your friends?
Of course, in theory, the Democrats could stop saying "No blank check" and start saying "No +&*^%!# check!" but I'm not going to hold my breath until they do.