One of the big problems with the bailout/rescue bill is that it’s like comprehensive immigration reform — the bill is big and contradictory enough so that anybody can find a provision that’s a deal-breaker in it. And the entire legislature is being asked to take or leave the whole package.
The solution, to me, is to break the bill into lots of pieces, and/or restore the amendment process. Let the Republicans have five amendments, let the Democrats have five. If the Democrats want ACORN funding to be one of them, go ahead. (They’ll never get the Blue Dogs.) If they want tougher CEO pay restrictions, let them. Let the Republican Study Committee offer a sweeping amendment to strip out everything they object to. If somebody thinks one of the top five priorities is removing the racial preferences provisions, go right ahead. Rescind the Community Reinvestment Act. Call for a special prosecutor to investigate Fannie and Freddie Mac’s past leadership.
Anything that gets 218 votes stays in. Get it out of the House, and let the Senate make the same deal. (I realize this is setting up for a conference committee that would make the past week look dignified and orderly.) But my guess is that large swaths for both caucuses felt they had no obligation to support a bill they had no ability to shape. Time to start getting lawmakers to feel like they have skin in the game.
A broader approach, from a reader:
Like many conservatives, I have grown increasingly depressed during the past week–worried about the prospects of Republican-electoral disaster, the consequent enactment of socialist policies by a federal government dominated by liberals, and the consequent crippling of our national prosperity. But you wrote something yesterday that gave me hope–and indicates that the great crisis presents a great opportunity for conservativism and for McCain as well. ”The Republicans running for House and Senate — and McCain, for that matter — can denounce it until their throats are hoarse every day from now until Election Day.The Republicans running for House and Senate — and McCain, for that matter — can denounce it until their throats are hoarse every day from now until Election Day…The bailout might save Wall Street, and ensure a Republican tsunami on Election Day to strip out the worst parts of the bill in 2009..” McCain, however, doesn’t need such a bill to be passed. Rather he can do the following: 1. Announce emphatically that the bill failed not only because of a failure of bipartisanship, but also because the American people rejected it–members of Congress heard overwhelming opposition. 2. State, therefore, that the only proper course is to make an appeal directly to the American people to rally them behind the needed reforms. 3. This appeal should take the form of a series of prudent, center-right proposals to address this and related crises. Proposals designed, frankly, to unite his supporters and divide those of Obama’s. We win only if we can set forth a clear choice of conservative v. liberal.
4. Focus his campaigning on these proposals, so as to force Obama to take some position. Hammer Obama on either his socialism (too liberal) or his silence (not ready to lead). 5. Lastly, craft this center-right platform as potentially bipartisan. Invite ALL candidates, whether incumbents or challengers, of ALL parties, to join him, and otherwise seek, in De-Gaulle-like-fashion, to “rally the people” to these reforms.