I can’t think of any way to sugar coat this, I’m afraid. It’s a bad bill and it isn’t just that Barack Obama voted for it, it’s that everything I’m hearing from the Hill says that he’s been actively whipping it, not just in the Senate but in the House. Barack didn’t hold his nose and vote for this, he made it his bill as much as it is Paulson’s.
With this bill go your chances of having, say, universal health care, or massive infrastructure development, or really getting the US of its dependence on foreign oil, or really rebuilding America’s school system—or whatever other big, expensive project you thought Obama was promising. 700 billion is a lot of money, and in the end this is almost certainly going to cost even more than that. Probably at least 1.5 trillion. (The technical term, I believe, is ‘good money after bad’).
As Michael Moore points out, the richest 400 people in America, who own as much as 150 million Americans, coincidentally saw their net worth increase by, oh, 700 billion during Bush’s reign. They got that money largely based on government largesse and private fraud aided by deregulatory administration officials. And they don’t intend to give it back to pay for the mess that they and the people who, in effect, work for them, have created.
Instead, as usual, it’s the middle class that gets to pay. And it’s Barack Obama who turned to Nancy Pelosi and Reid and said "this bill must pass". It’s Obama who is whipping votes and bending arms for this despite the fact that it is massively unpopular. This is Obama’s bill.
I assume he’s willing to give up the 700 billion for the near dictatorial power over the US economy which is still embedded in the bill, power which he will wield through his Treasury Secretary. Or maybe, encouraged by his economic advisers, almost all of whom were amongst the architects and cheerleaders of the policies which made this crisis occur, he really believes that bailing out the rich with middle class money is how the country has to operate. After all, some people are important and some people aren’t, and since the middle class can vote for him or for a man who has made himself into a national joke with Sarah Palin as the punchline, what are they going to do? Vote for John McCain, the laughingstock, who was also for the bill he was against, or some such?
If this bill doesn’t work, or even if it does, it will have a huge cost and that cost will be born by the middle class. Even if you think it will work, not adding surcharges to make the rich pay for their own bailout is unconscionable.
Americans are being robbed, reverse Robin Hood style. Take money from ordinary folks, hand it directly to the rich. That’s Obama’s first real act as the presumptive President and as the Democratic party’s de-facto leader.