Today’s vote by the House of Representatives was nothing less than a failure of our democratic decision process. The so called $700B Bailout Bill (it is neither a bailout or a cost of $700B) was voted down 228 to 205. As a result of the failed vote, the stock market suffered its biggest drop in history, losing retirement funds, endowments, and the well earned investments of Americans. Unless something is recovered, the lack of confidence and instability will cause even more than a recession.
Why did it fail to pass? Because politicians don’t want to lose their jobs. With the election 5 weeks away, they know that if they vote for this they will be criticized by their opponents. “He supported giving $700B to bail out wealthy financial executives. Just think of the things we could have done with $700B.” This is, of course, not true. But we’ve all come to accept that misleading and untrue attack advertisements are what win American elections.
Congressman Paul Ryan, R-Wis, admitted this. “Most of us say ‘I want this thing to pass, but I want you to vote for it, not me.’” If you vote for it, you do the right thing for the country, but you also risk losing your re-election. The objectives of Congress and the American people are not aligned. With the election right around the corner, politicians only care about being re-elected and that’s their objective – not doing what is right for the country. There is not an alignment of objectives in our democratic process right now.
The average person does not understand this legislation and is being misled about it. They think it’s a bailout of investment banks. It’s not; most of them are already toast, and this won’t help them recover their losses. Likewise, it’s not a $700B cost like spending the money on defense or other initiatives. It’s a $700B investment, the vast majority of which will be recovered in time.
The decision today is a stark reminder of the failure of our democratic decision process and our entire election process in this country. When we need real leadership, it fails, and we will suffer irrevocably. Hopefully, enough of the representatives will dig deep and find the courage to do what they know is necessary and stop playing the game of letting others support it so they can hide.