As the members of congress explore solutions-- and I hope they are really exploring, not just working from the the proposal Paulson has submitted-- they should be keeping one thing foremost in their minds-- "How will this help taxpayers and stabilize the economy-- not "How will this help the failing financial entities?"
We're not just talking about the $700 billion bailout. There's also the $50 billion loan to the auto companies and now the auto loan companies have started to come begging too.
The fact is that We the people are in the drivers seat, negotiatons-wise. The question is, who are the members of congress taking care of? Nowadays, when you buy or sell a house, you have a realtor who must identify his or her self as performing just one of those functions. Well, we need to be really clear that our legislators are representing the taxpayers, not the massive corporations.
When it comes to the $700 billion bailout, which many are beginning to predict could be more like three or four trillion dollars, the negotiations should be aiming to keep the loans flowing and the dollar up, not getting the most money to the corporations that gambled away their right to profits or stability.
We're seeing scavengers like Barclays and Nomura buying up parts of Lehman bros. We need to make sure that as this bailout unfolds, the Fed is not left with the most devalued, worthless parts. Naomi Klein was half joking the other day, on the Bill Maher show, when she said that instead of socializing the losing parts, we should nationalize Exxon. Well, maybe not Exxon, but at least, let's grab and governmentalize the strongest, most valuable parts of these companies that are drowning in their own debt. Allowing Barclays and Nomura to cherry pick is another way of giving corporate gift handout.
Let's look at the bailout as a way to help taxpayers from the bottom up. That means that those hundreds of billions of dollars must flow through taxpayers hands to reach the banks. Use coupons that taxpayers can use to help themselves with their problem mortgages-- or to help them consolidate their debts. Why punish the people who were more cautious and responsible, saddling them with the debts the whole nation will be carrying.
Put out coupons for borrowers who meet the credit criteria and let the borrowers decide where the money goes. This is what Jeff Howe describes in his book, Crowdsourcing, or what James Surowiecki described in Wisdom of the Crowds. What, you want to go with the experts-- the ones who got us or allowed us to descend into this mess? Trust the tens of millions of Americans to invest their money in a smarter way than any group of capitalists. We have faced the time where the wisdom of the market-- trusting capitalism-- has passed. Now we need to trust our own people.
When it comes to the Auto Manufacturers and now, the auto financiers, we need to get tough with them and do the same thing-- help them through the bottom up-- coupons or programs that American consumers participate in-- and require that those programs only apply to vehicles that provide at least 35 MPG fuel efficiencly. They're coming to us begging. Don't give them a handout without getting anything back.
The big corporations that have been ruining America, corrupting the political process, despoiling the environment, globalizing our economy at the price of American Industry, is coming to congress now on bended knees. Bush and Paulson are trying to pull another rush job like they did with WMDs, using them to sell the Iraq war. The members of congress, at least some of them, are smarter this time around. And we have better tools for raising our voices and letting them know, NO f*cking WAY!
The democrats who have been rubber stamping just about everything George Bush has thrown at them have an opportunity now to play hardball. They should be not only looking at ways to approach this from the bottom up, really taking care of the American people, but they should be agressively figuring out how to use this moment of crisis and opportunity to make something magical happen-- and give the American people something they really deserve-- universal single payer health care. There's an economic reason for it too. The current system, with insurance companies-- and it looks like even the non-profit "Blues" are converting to for-profit- are in the process of parasitizing and bankrupting the country from another direction.
If the congress is smart it will come back to Paulson, Bernanke and Bush and DEMAND that they put the Auto Maker Loan and Universal healthcare into this package, and put all of it into a bottom-up model that gives the taxpayers a real share of the benefits as well as the risk this disaster capitalist assault on America has inflicted.Chris Dodd, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and the rest of the Dem senators need to really show that they are covering the taxpayers backs. Bernie Sanders has taken a solid stand, saying that any business so big that it can't fail is too big to exist. That's the way all the senators need to be thinking-- the smaller the better. It's one thing to make sure CEOs don't take golden parachute payouts or outrageous salaries for doing bad work, but that's small change. The big picture must include the senate and house totally revising the Paulson plan so money for corporations flows through the taxpayer. It's the best, smartest, fairest way to keep the taxpayer in the loop.