This diary was inspired by gamecock’s recent post Republicans purge Paulson-Pelosi bailout of most onerous Obamanations. What started as a comment mushroomed until it became clear that a diary was needed.
I would agree that the House Republicans with McCain’s bakcing got the best bill they could, given the other forces involved. Nonetheless, it’s not clear to us that on its merits that this is a bill that should be passed.
However, since we don’t live in a vacuum, we need to look at the political environment too – and here we get contradictory readings.
1) In the current political and media climate, Republicans from McCain on down will get crucified if they are viewed as blocking the bill and the predictions of the sky falling come to pass.
Now if we had the luxury to wait things out for 9-15 months or so, then by the next election, the people would see that the sky hadn’t fallen and that we were on our way towards a healthy recovery, and they would be rallying to Republicans.
However, with the elections on six weeks away, Nov 4th will fall around the nadir of the fall-out; the papers will be filled with horror stories (“women and minorities hit hardest”) and the Democrats will sweep the Presidency and Congress with a mandate for a socialist regime.
And with Obama leading the destruction of the 1st Amendment and other tilting of the political rules to ensure one-party rule, the revolution may be irreversible.
That’s a political reason for taking what we have.
2) On the other hand, it could be that if the Dems win the White House but the Congressional carnage is relatively limited, then the lack of a bill means that the Democrats will have to start from scratch to create their socialist state. With obstruction and delay tactics by Republicans (especially if we can keep a filibuster threat) and the benefits of having lanced the boil quickly rather than allowing it to fester, the natural recovery process will defuse public sentiment for radical change and vitiate the Democratic bill.
So we may still get a favorable outcome in terms of preserving free enterprise market-based system.
3) The political calculation in supporting the bill is that it will work well enough to disarm the sense of economic crisis and improve voter confidence in the current system rather than throwing it overboard (as Obama advocates) – that it will leave open the possibility of a McCain victory and a veto threat over raids on the program.
4) However, what is perhaps not being given enough weight in these calculation is what happens if the bill passes and things still go badly rather than catastrophically. In that case, we face the worst of all worlds.
We then would have to face the scenario that if Obama wins and the Democrats keep Congressional control, then come 2009, they will amend the bill to bring back in all the destructive goodies that we’ve kept out, once they no longer need bipartisan cover.
Or decide that they need more Federal intervention in the next “crisis” having established a precedence.
The point is, having a bill in place, it will be far easier (and irresistable temptation) to make destructive changes than if they have to craft a bill from scratch.
Thus we need to weigh many inponderables
Under normal circumstance, when the outcome is truly uncertain, then it’s best to stick with your principles.
If things go badly, if you have stuck with your principles, at least you can keep your self respect when you get up the next morning.
Versus the outcome of selling your birthright for foul soup. Or waking up in a stranger’s bed with your new paramour, your credit cards, your keys, and your honor vanished.
However, there is still one last factor to consider, which in this equivocal situation I suspect should be the decisive factor.
And that factor is what John McCain’s position on the bill. Since he has publically engaged himself in getting through an acceptible bill, then should McCain support this bill as acceptible, then the Republicans in Congress will fatally undercut McCain’s candidacy if they reject the bill – because this will come across as a slam on McCain’s effectiveness and competence as President – the slam being that if McCain can’t control his own party and gain their respect, how can he govern the nation when he also has to deal with the other party.
On the other hand, if McCain says no to the bill, then the Republicans need to stand behind him again and respect that he will take responsibility for the outcome.
Thus in the end, at this point in time, it comes down to McCain’s position.
revision: On further reflection (difficult at this hour of night), we don’t have a parlimentary system of government; the vote of Republicans on this bill does not represent a vote of confidence on McCain.
This leads me back to the previous section: let our congressional representatives vote on their assessment of the merits of the bill and their level of confidence in a market-based economic system.
The political calculus is too nebulous to stake our nation’s future upon; the expedient path is like as not to betray those who put their confidence in cynical calculation.