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Talking Economic Accountability With David Cay Johnston

free_lunch_200-1.thumbnail.jpgPlease welcome Pulitzer Prize winning journalist David Cay Johnston back to FDL. He’s joining us in the comments — jh

David Cay Johnston wrote the book Free Lunch: How the Wealthiest Americans Enrich Themselves at Government Expense [and Stick You with the Bill]. I doubt there has been an event in my lifetime that could rival the bank bailout as an explicit example of the rich getting richer on the taxpayer tab, and Johnston was warning about this from the get. From September 2008, when we were being told the world would end unless TARP passed immediately:

In covering the proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street don’t repeat the failed lapdog practices that so damaged our reputations in the rush to war in Iraq and the adoption of the Patriot Act. Don’t assume that Congress must act instantly, as so many news stories state as if it was an immutable fact. Don’t assume there is a case just because officials say there is.

The coverage of the Paulson plan focuses on the edges, on the details. The focus should be on the premise. And be skeptical of what gullible Congressional leaders, most of them up before the voters in a few weeks, say after being given a closed-door meeting on supposed horrors.

He said Congress should demand answers to certain questions before running off like a bunch of lemmings like they did over the Iraq war. He wanted the case to be made about why it was necessary to bail out foreign banks. He wanted to know if this was going to be a downpayment on a much bigger bailout. He wanted to know why we weren’t helping the people who took out loans, rather than the people who made them. Above all, he wanted to know if this was all really necessary:

Is there a market solution to this? If so, why impose a government solution? If not what does that tell us about our entire economic theory?

None of these questions were addressed, and here we sit, lighting ever bigger piles of money on fire to save a failed system and enrich the people who destroyed it while we’re told we can’t afford basic health care for the Americans they victimized.

It’s well past time Congress demanded some answers. Please sign the petition No More Dough Til We Know Where It Goes and welcome David in the comments.

Previous chats in the series: Economist James K. Galbraith, Rep. Alan Grayson, Yves Smith of Naked Capitalism

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Jane Hamsher

Jane Hamsher

Jane is the founder of Firedoglake.com. Her work has also appeared on the Huffington Post, Alternet and The American Prospect. She’s the author of the best selling book Killer Instinct and has produced such films Natural Born Killers and Permanent Midnight. She lives in Washington DC.
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