I have read the posts here and elsewhere. Sometimes these things are made to look more complicated than they really are. From an economic perspective, if the problem is liquidity and credit, there simply is no need for the federal government to assume massive amounts of debt on its book by assuming loans in anticipation that their holders or borrowers will default. This seems to me like a brand new expanse of government power that is not justified (if it ever is) by the arguments made on its behalf. The government controls monetary policy through supply and interest rates, among other things. It can further ease money supply and credit, thereby increasing the flow of capital. The government controls tax policy. It can increase liquidity and the flow of new money into the economy both from within the country and from foreign sources by eliminating the corporate income tax and the capital gains tax even on a mid-term basis. No matter what is done, some financial institutions will fail, as they did in the 1981-82 recession and have since. And the Fed and Treasury and other instrumentalities of government will have to determine, on a case-by-case basis, whether to intervene and how to intervene. They will also have to determine whether other policies require modifying, such as the McCain proposal today, in which he suggests increasing federal insurance for individual depositors from $100,000 to $250,000. Other smart suggestions include modifying the mark-to-market rule requiring financial institutions to downgrade the valuation of assets. If the goal is to prevent panic in the economy by investors and depositors, then increase credit, liquidity, and the flow of capital, and deal with problem institutions that are significant enough in size that their demise could resonate to the wider economy. But the Soviet-style, top-down five year plan a la Paulson’s proposal, and to a significant extent the proposal that was voted down yesterday, could easily do more damage to both the economy and our governmental structure. So, in this respect, I must depart from NRO’s editorial.
Also, count me among those few here who want to thank the House Republicans for taking a bold stand against what had been a stampede on a scale I have never before witnessed on matters of huge consequence. Conservatism is more than a quaint belief-system to be embraced and debated over donuts at Starbucks. It is more than a list of talking points. It is the foundation of the civil society. The liberal uses crises, real or manufactured, to expand the power of government at the expense of the individual and private property. He has spent, in earnest, 70 years evading the Constitution’s limits on governmental power. If conservatives don’t stand up to this, who will? If they don’t offer serious alternatives that address the current circumstances AND defend the founding principles, who will? The House Republicans have done both. And I, for one, thank them.
Incidentally, if you want to buy a home or car today you can. And if your credit is decent, you can get loans at a good rate. Last week we were told that if a deal was not struck by last Friday, our economy would collapse. It has not. That is not to say the evidence of economic troubles or worse should be ignored. It is to say that now is a time for reasoned decisions based on tried and true principles, not for abandoning them. I notice that the socialist, who, for the last 30 years, has insisted that private institutions make risky loans based on non-economic factors, still has not abandoned his policies. Socialism does not work. We shouldn’t support more of it.