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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Jonathan FBD Weisman has an article so juicy that even BD says it's "interesting--and possibly true"

The article does seem to be well sourced. It makes John McCain look very very bad. Key passage

McCain "burst into the Senate Republican policy luncheon. Over a Tex-Mex buffet, Sens. Robert F. Bennett (Utah) and Judd Gregg (N.H.) had been explaining the contours of a deal just reached. House Republicans were not buying it. Then McCain spoke.

"I appreciate what you've done here, but I'm not going to sign on to a deal just to sign the deal," McCain told the gathering, according to Graham and confirmed by multiple Senate GOP aides. "Just like Iraq, I'm not afraid to go it alone if I need to."

Note sourced to his best buddy and numerous others. In defense of senator McCain, I should note that he did not refer to his having been a POW when explaining why he wouldn't vote for the Paulson-Dodd-Frank plan. He evidently didn't refer to the content of the plan either, or demonstrate any understanding of the difference between opposing the plan and advocating the surge.

This is even more damaging but based on a single anonymous source (who was clearly not an ear witness)so take with a ton of salt

"McCain also spoke in the starkly personal terms of a presidential candidate in trouble: 'You all put me on the hook for $700 billion,' he told his colleagues, according to an aide familiar with the lunch."

Actually, I think any reasonable person must assume that the idea that McCain said that he thought it was about "me" is slander. He's egocentric, impulsive and dumb, but not that dumb.

Also Boehner makes McCain look like a statesman. First, it is a matter of public record (as Weisman briefly reminds readers) that house Republicans including Boehner argued that the Paulson plan should be passed as proposed. Their slogan was "clean bill." Now after modifications as advocated by Dodd, Frank, Obama *and* McCain, but without the modifications opposed by Boehner et al it is no longer any good.

The seriousness of the House Republicans is shown by the speed with which they got to work.

On Wednesday afternoon, Boehner appointed a new working group, led by Cantor, Ryan and Republican Study Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Tex.), and including some moderates, to see if they could put together an alternative proposal. McCain's impending arrival shifted that effort into high gear. By the time McCain arrived in Boehner's office Thursday, the principles of a new plan were ready.

Indeed in the White House meeting, Boehner refused to present an alternative and didn't even pretend to care about policy. He didn't advocate the House Republicans' proposal, because 1) it was one tenth baked and 2) he didn't know what it was

Boehner was blunt. The plan Paulson laid out would not win the support of the vast majority of House Republicans. It had been improved on the edges, with an oversight board and caps on the compensation of participating executives. But it had to be changed at the core. He did not mention the insurance alternative, but Democrats did. Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, pressed Boehner hard, asking him if he really intended to scrap the deal and start again.

No, Boehner replied, he just wanted his members to have a voice.

Just think. They demand "a voice," but they don't have anything in particular to say. It doesn't get anymore obvious than that.

Anyway it appears that Boehner and McCain have caved.

The concession is an add on

Meanwhile, House Republicans won a major victory, persuading negotiators to include a provision that would require the Treasury Department to create a federal insurance program that would guarantee banks and other firms against loss from any troubled asset, the official said.

Now I don't have much in common with Boehner and McCain, but I do think we three have one thing in common. I don't think any of us has any clear idea what Pence and Cantor had in mind. I assumed it was a give-away in which the Federal government acted as an insurance company -- taking premiums and paying claims with no limit. If the final add on is like that, it could be a huge problem. Other people assumed that the idea was just to have the Federal Government administer a pool where all the money to pay claims came from premiums. As a rescue plan that would be totally crazy, in Kevin Drum's words "like a bunch of skydivers forming a circle and thinking they can all pull each other up." The fact that it makes no sense makes it plausible that it is the Pence plan. In any case, as an add on, it would be harmless as banks just won't participate.

Now it would have been much better if the Federal Government had used the crisis to remove control of our financial system from the arrogant reckless greed heads who will now find some new way to destroy it. The bill doesn't even include bankruptcy re-reform. However, the Democrats were bargaining with the immense disadvantage of being responsible people, while the Republicans were willing to destroy the economy out of pique, so I guess its as good as could have been hoped for.

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