Shameful

by Russ Roberts on September 23, 2008

in Politics

From the AP (HT: Drudge):

Congress is poised to vote on the biggest government intervention in
the financial markets since the Great Depression, but it’s unlikely
that any of the three senators vying for the White House  will be there – even though all three have talked of little else for over a week.

Sen. John McCain (R- Ariz.) has no plans to return to Washington this week, even though on Monday he expressed discomfort with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson’s trillion-dollar bailout plan and has offered his own rescue proposal.

“Sen. McCain is monitoring the situation closely,” said campaign co-manager Steve Schmidt on a conference call Monday. “We will see how this unfolds this week.”

McCain “retains his rights to evaluate it as it goes along and make a final decision,” said co-manager Rick Davis.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) also looks like a no-show.

Senior Obama strategist Robert Gibbs
said the campaign would be monitoring the process as it unfolds this
week, but as of Monday, the campaign would not commit to Obama making
the trip back to Washington – even though the bailout proposal has
taken a central role in Obama’s stump speeches.

“It’s safe to say people will know where we are,” Gibbs said.

Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.),
Obama’s vice presidential running mate, is also “monitoring” the
bailout situation, said spokesman David Wade, calling the rescue
legislation “a critical issue.”

If they’re not going to fulfill their obligations, they should resign from office and refuse to accept their pay.

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{ 25 comments }

Bel Aire September 23, 2008 at 9:29 am

They want us to vote for them but they won't vote on the biggest issue of the day? Is this politics or Let's Make a Deal and we're being asked to choose Door #1 or the box on the stage?

T L Holaday September 23, 2008 at 10:01 am

Russ, you ought to put that in the form of an amendment to the Constitution, so that any elected representative who misses a vote will forfeit office.

I am confidant in your ability to find some Hayekian principle to cite as support of compulsory voting.

muirgeo September 23, 2008 at 10:16 am

This is important because you are seeing in broad daylight the difference between the Republicans and the Democratic leaderships. The Republicans are threatening imminent failure if we don't hand over to them WITH NO STRINGS attached $700,000,000,000 dollars. The Democratic leadership is at least having the sense to say BS Big Brother… they've seen this before… Shock Doctrine in action..

Here's my advice to Paulson and Bush. You need $700 billion dollars? Well let me introduce you to 400 Americans who, during your presidency, made a combined $650 billion dollars. Between them they own a total of $1.5 TRILLION dollars. Maybe THEY can help you out. The other $50 billion could easily be paid for by the 50 million people who voted you into office at $1,000 a head ….PROBLEM SOLVED!

scott clark September 23, 2008 at 10:18 am

THat's incredible. None of them are going back to DC? It makes for a hell of a political attack if McCain goes back and acts like a Senator, then goes out on the road saying look at this guy, a brand new senator who never goes to work, talk about lack of experience, you have to show up to get some. Obama could go, vote, and spin this that McCain is too old, doesnt know the economy, won't honor his committments. Jeez, this is damaging stuff that they are letting slip.

TL Holaday, no Hayekian principle needed. Just the principle of doing the job you get paid for. Which is what I am not doing right now. Peace.

Gary September 23, 2008 at 10:22 am

Who cares? McCain admittedly knows nothing about the economy, and Obama would vote "present" anyway.

We're turning the asylum over to the patients.

M.A. Miller September 23, 2008 at 10:29 am

Doing the job should be as compulsory as it is for the employer (i.e. we the taxpaying people) to pay the salary.

Don Mynack September 23, 2008 at 10:33 am

I agree. We are probably better off without the two lead idiots there. It would be nice if Biden were there – he's a bit more plugged in that the other two.

Actually, we should be asking hedge fund managers, not the brokerages, how they would handle this. They seem to be doing rather well at the moment.

The other Eric September 23, 2008 at 10:36 am

Gary beat me to the punch– the inmates really are running things.

Speedmaster September 23, 2008 at 10:47 am

Disgraceful, but not surprising. ;-(

I_am_a_lead_pencil September 23, 2008 at 11:19 am

muirgeo, you say:

The Republicans are threatening imminent failure if we don't hand over to them WITH NO STRINGS attached $700,000,000,000 dollars.

You are quite right on this point.

From an AP story this morning:

"In an expansion of its original proposal, the Bush administration is asking for broad power to buy up virtually any kind of bad asset — including credit card debt or car loans — from any financial institution in the U.S. or abroad in order to stabilize markets."

"Any kind" of bad asset?

From "any" financial institution – even one "abroad"?

I'm without further words.

Marcus September 23, 2008 at 11:27 am

"Congress is poised to vote on the biggest government intervention in the financial markets since the Great Depression"

I may be just splitting hairs on an irrelevant detail but isn't really the biggest intervention since the '70's?

I mean, besides the Chrysler bailout in the '70's the government just plain ran pretty much everything. Right down to the number of peanuts you eat on an airplane and the price you could charge for gasoline.

Keith September 23, 2008 at 11:38 am

Quote from muirgeo: "The other $50 billion could easily be paid for by the 50 million people who voted you into office at $1,000 a head ….PROBLEM SOLVED!"

But that's not how democracy works. Everybody has to pay. It doesn't matter who you voted for, or even if you got to vote. The duly elected government officials have made their decision. If you don't like it, you can go live somewhere else.

Methinks September 23, 2008 at 11:40 am

Here's my advice to Paulson and Bush. You need $700 billion dollars? Well let me introduce you to 400 Americans who, during your presidency, made a combined $650 billion dollars. Between them they own a total of $1.5 TRILLION dollars. Maybe THEY can help you out. The other $50 billion could easily be paid for by the 50 million people who voted you into office at $1,000 a head ….PROBLEM SOLVED!

Here's mysolution – and, unlike the resident idiot's, it doesn't include rape and theft of people more prudent and productive than he is: Borrowed too much money? Too bad. It's bankruptcy for you and a lien on all your future earnings until you pay it back. Your bank lent the too much money to a fool with no job? Too bad. Bank goes bankrupt and the creditors and shareholders eat the loss – even if they're chinesse. Muirdiot ends up living in a neighbourhood where 1/2 the houses are in foreclosure? Too bad. That's one of the risks that he took when he bought the asset.

tarran September 23, 2008 at 11:41 am

The good news in all of this is that no presidential candidate wants to go on record as supporting the bailout.

The bailout is massively unpopular. The vast majority of people view this as a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich (correctly IMHO). They all seem to think it is necessary to stave off a depression.

If it weren't for the myths spread by politicians about the Great Depression, these financial houses would be headed for bankrupcy, and this bailout plan would be a compelte nonstarte.

This is making me hope that Obama does win the white house for two terms. Then the socialists won't be able to blame their depression on Republican incompetence, and hopefully we'll start down the path to sound monetary policy.

My grandparents lived through the great depression. My kids will probably live through the Great Depression II. May there never be a Great Depression III.

tw September 23, 2008 at 11:41 am

Russ,

Good points as always. One of the weaknesses of our political system is what would/could happen if a crisis occurs so close to a Presidential election – tendency to either overreact or to do nothing.

As a sidenote, The Washington Times has a bombshell story about the likelihood of a 269-269 Electoral College tie and the huge problems that would create among our "wonderful" politicians in Congress. At least, I'm sure everybody would be in attendance for that vote, should it be necessary!

Speedmaster September 23, 2008 at 12:09 pm

Dr. Roberts, could you tell us what you think Milton Friedman would be saying/writing about all of this if he was still here?

Sam Grove September 23, 2008 at 12:58 pm

You can go over to downsizedc.org and send a note to your "representative(s)" that you oppose the bailout and you expect the same of him/her.

colson September 23, 2008 at 1:02 pm

Speedmaster:

I just had the image in my head of Friedman lip syncing to "Hate to say I told you so" by the Hives.

Scott September 23, 2008 at 1:34 pm

Yeah, on the one hand, we should all be outraged that these Senators aren't doing their job.

OTOH, wouldn't we all be better off if *more* senators (and representatives for that matter) simply didn't show up to work? The less time they spend in Washington, the less damage they can do.

Martin Brock September 23, 2008 at 3:31 pm

The Democratic leadership is at least having the sense to say BS Big Brother… they've seen this before… Shock Doctrine in action..

Speaking of BS … I see a Democratic leadership saying, "We're happy to hand over the $700 billion, Republicans, but don't forget that we're Big Brother again now, not you."

indiana jim September 23, 2008 at 4:43 pm

Russ:

You wrote:

"If they're not going to fulfill their obligations, they should resign from office and refuse to accept their pay."

I agree, these guys are shining us on with their talk of "monitoring" the situation. They are shirking. But that is what all workers do. Alchian and Allen's classic textbook in discussing corporate capitalism talked about the issue of "who monitors the monitor." In corporate capitalism, of course, a number of things do this: takeovers, competing monitors, and so on. With Congresspersons, the voters monitor infrequently and with rational ignorance. Blogging is making information about shirking public officials cheaper to acquire and will lower the level of voter ignorance, but how much is anybody's guess. In any case, thank you for pushing back on these shirkers.

Bob in SeaTac September 23, 2008 at 5:31 pm

from Don Mynack:
"I agree. We are probably better off without the two lead idiots there. It would be nice if Biden were there – he's a bit more plugged in that the other two."

Biden plugged in? The only thing he is good at is being a self-important blowhard.

GMU Phil Major September 24, 2008 at 5:45 pm

Redemption?

McCain to Suspend Campaign, Return to D.C. to Address Economy

Today, John McCain said that he would suspend his campaign and return to Washington D.C. to deal with the problems on Wall Street.

Sam Grove September 24, 2008 at 9:32 pm

Is he pulling an Alexander Haig?

Jeff September 25, 2008 at 4:44 pm

Redemption? Why is the senators' return an issue? What exactly were McCain and Obama suppose to do? Neither is on the relevant committees where the detailed work is being done.

If anything, a return before the committee gets a bill forward would be little more than political grandstanding.

As for McCain, he's gone in less than a week from the "fundamentals of our economy are sound" to things are now so dire that we must suspend the campaign and cancel the debate… Talk about being disingenuous.

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