Everything I’m hearing (which I would love to be wrong) is that the House is going to pass this. The Senate put in a pile of sweeteners, the necessary arms have been twisted (not least by Obama himself) and the fix is, at it were, in. Plus the stock market gyrations have been scaring people spitless. Folks don’t seem to get that the stock market is screwed no matter what, you can keep the headline number where you want if you throw enough money at it, but it won’t mean what it used to.
Still, folks thought the fix was in the first time the House took it up, so hopefully the fixers get a nasty surprise.
So anyway, the "Screw the Poor to Bailout the Rich" Act. If it passes I’ll put up a longer piece on the economic consequences of the bill, for now I’ll just note that the political consequence is that Obama isn’t going to get his massive sweep. For a bit there he was beating McCain by two digits, but non-trailing polls are coming in much less than that. Obama bought this bill, and the price is going to be the huge mandate he could have had and probably quite a few House seats now, and many many more in 2010.
On the other hand, McCain clearly wanted to oppose it but was brought back in line. I imagine the lobbyists who ran his campaign said something like "nice campaign you’ve got here. Be a shame if something happened to it." Caught between having no money or organization and voting for a massively unpopular bill he voted for it but acted like he couldn’t stand it. Not going to be enough for him, and once more, if McCain had really been the maverick he claims he was, he’d have had a better chance, and put himself back in the running (or maybe not, since the lobbyists probably would have really walked. You don’t think they’re actually working for him, do you?)
Wall Street is already saying 700 billion ain’t gonna cut it, so expect to be back here in 3 to 6 months with an Act that lets the Treasury Secretary spend more. At that point there will be one more, and probably last, chance to do this right. I’m not feeling super optimistic about that at this point, given Obama putting his weight behind this bill, but we’ll see. There are some provisions in the bill which if expanded and modified could turn this into something that isn’t a complete disaster.
In the meantime I’d like to thank all of you who did fax or phone your Reps in opposition to this. I could be wrong about the fix, so if you’ve got some time, call again. But right or wrong, win or lose, it’s been a pleasure standing beside you in this fight.
This is war, and this is just one battle. We’ll be back.