We’re hearing a lot of talk about the bail-out of the financial companies on Wall Street. Both parties are weighing in, with most people (more than 70% of those polled) skeptical that giving almost a Billion Dollars of money without oversight to one person to dole out to the companies is a terribly good idea. The President and John McCain seem to be okay with it. Republican Representative Joe Barton from Texas (who voted with the President 96% of the time) called the bill “Dead on Arrival,” and stated that the bill “doesn’t have 40 votes in the House,” so someone is listening.
This is my take on the situation:
We are right to be skeptical. The way the bail-out has been architected, the executives of the companies are likely to keep their jobs and fat bonuses. The government will take a chunk of the shares in the company, diluting the value of the remaining shares and shafting the shareholders if the company recovers. It does nothing for the homeowners whose failing loans are causing the financial debacle in the first place. In short: The heck with your retirement or your home. What’s really important is saving rich people’s butts! Understand?
The really huge problem with this is that we are likely to see as much as (possibly more than) Seven Billion Dollars in losses through the mortgage meltdown. That’s Seven Billion Dollars in lost home equity. To put it another way, that’s more than half of the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. Imagine if your gross salary suddenly got divided in half for a year without changing any of your other obligations. That’s what we’re talking about happening to the economy of the U.S. And that’s not counting the amount of money that people put into their home and lost due to the home being foreclosed on.
Now imagine that the current bail-out doesn’t address any of the problems with the mortgage meltdown. Why imagine? It doesn’t. None of this money, not one single cent, is slated to reduce the damage to homeowners’ pockets. All the legislation does is make sure the mortgage company is still there to foreclose on the homes if need be.
Now, keep in mind that while that’s not good, the current bill also does nothing whatsoever to address the bad mortgage making decisions that got us into this problem. Nope, repealing Phil Gramm’s deregulation of the industry is not currently on the table.
So, here’s the deal: Executives keep their jobs, retirement savings invested in mutual funds get smaller, homeowners are out on the street, and taxpayers are left holding the tab. If that isn’t a Bush/McCain field goal, I don’t know one.
Here’s what we need to really be doing: