I'm an economics major and I stay on top of the news, so when my best buddy Benjy asked me about the Bush administration's push to bail insurance companies and investment banks out of bankruptcy with taxpayer money, I was happy to explain it.
Millions of mortgages were sold by incompetent bankers to incompetent Americans who couldn't actually afford to pay them. Now, hundreds of thousands of those mortgages have defaulted. The mortgages became useless and the banks that own the loans started collapsing. The Bush administration now wants to step in and buy up all those bad loans and give banks and insurance companies $700 billion to start investing again.
"How could they do that?" Benjy asked me. "It sure seems like a lot of money."
"Don't be silly," I said. "It may seem like a lot of money, but per person, it's probably only a few dollars."
I grabbed a calculator to show him. I divided $700 billion by 301 million people. Boy, was my estimate wrong. Bush actually plans to spend more than $2,300 for every American and hand it over to Fortune 500 companies. Over the weekend, Congress negotiated and amended Bush's proposal, and both houses agreed on a joint bill that will go before the House for a vote Monday.
I think I was more stunned than he was by the realization. Our elected officials repeated the same mistake they did in the lead up to the war in Iraq, now running a total tab of more than $550 billion. We all know how well that went. And if Bush blew through $550 billion in five years with nothing to show, how do we trust him with $700 billion more?
Last week, when Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., asked Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. if he would accept the money in installments instead of a lump sum, Paulson actually replied, "We need the full authority," according to Reuters.
Similarly, in 2002 and 2003, Bush said that the U.S. military needed to use full military force. Shame on us. We are giving him full authority again. Don't be surprised when it all gets squandered.
The Bush administration has proven that it can't manage anything well. From No Child Left Behind to Hurricane Katrina, Bush has bungled everything.
Over the weekend, the Democrats (champions of charity) and Republicans (champions of small government) approved the executive branch's plan. Spineless presidential candidates Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., were both there at the table. One of these fellows is going to be your president. Glad to see they pushed so hard for change.
Good luck in November, voters.