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Faith-Based Bailout

It ought to be clear to everyone that the TARP – Troubled Assets Relief Program – bailout has been a failure in doing what it was supposed to do. Disaster was not prevented. Confidence was not restored. Credit was not thawed. Companies have gone under. People are have lost their jobs. Sales went way down.

The first half of the 700 billion dollars was spent without accountability, although the Bush Administration promised that the spending would be accountable. So, what has Congress done now? It’s repeated its mistake, and refused to block the second half of the big bailout – no strings attached.

It will be different this time, they say. Why? Barack Obama says that the money will be spent with accountability. There’s no new legislation actually requiring accountability, but Barack Obama says there will be accountability, and some people are trusting in that.

Of course, Barack Obama now has more credibility than George W. Bush. It’s important to remember, however, that six, seven, eight years ago, George W. Bush had strong credibility with the Congress and with the general public as well. In 2002, George W. Bush had the highest credibility ratings of any President ever.

The trust of the American people in its leaders has not been a good measure of the trustworthiness of its leaders.

I’m not saying that I have particular reason to distrust Barack Obama as President to properly administer this 350 billion dollars. I have the general, usual reasons. Like most politicians, Barack Obama has broken his pledges to the people in the past, even as recently as his presidential campaign. I’m skeptical of the idea of placing 350 billion dollars in the hands of any political leader without strict control and oversight, and there isn’t strict control and oversight in this bailout.

We’re being asked to spend 350 billion dollars on faith, right after we’ve seen a previous 350 billion dollars spent fruitlessly. Why do we believe that it will work out well – because we want to believe it?

We’ve apparently got an incoming Secretary of the Treasury who couldn’t even pay his own taxes correctly. I’ve made mistakes on my taxes before, so I don’t want to make a personal judgment about that. However, I’m not asking to be made Secretary of the Treasury. I want to make a professional judgment about Geithner’s ability to deal with money. It’s being said that Timothy Geithner merely made an honest mistake with paying his taxes. If that’s the case, it’s reasonable to ask whether a Treasury Secretary Geithner would make an honest mistake with the remaining 350 billion dollar bailout money.

There’s a lot of pressure on both politicians in Washington D.C. and on Americans in general, to give their support to whatever Barack Obama wants as President, because people want Barack Obama to succeed. I caution that support needs to be earned through sound proposals, and that we ought not want Barack Obama to succeed more than we want our nation to succeed.

The President of the United States deserves critical examination from the Congress and from the people from the very first day of his Administration. I am heartened to see that in the Senate vote yesterday that attempted to block the additional spending of 350 billion dollars in big corporate bailouts, there were the following Democrats who had the strength to critically examine the incoming President and defy the Democratic Senate leadership:

Senator Evan Bayh
Senator Maria Cantwell
Senator Byron Dorgan
Senator Russ Feingold
Senator Blanche Lincoln
Senator Ben Nelson
Senator Jeanne Shaheen
Senator Ron Wyden

Progressive independent senator Bernard Sanders also voted in favor of blocking the 350 billion dollar bailout.

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