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Monday, September 22, 2008

The $700 Billion Realignment?

I still have to say it very slowly, to convince myself it's real:

Seven. Hundred. Billion. Dollars.

Will $700 billion be enough for Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to save the global economy from America's mortgage mess? Beats me. But this stunning price tag may be enough to wreak some seismic political realignment (and we're about due, aren't we?). Consider these through-the-looking-glass phenomena:
  • Anti-abortion activists who think I'm mostly nuts can find common ground with me on fiscal matters.
  • The Democratic presidential nominee talks about cutting federal programs.
  • My wife and I nod in agreement to every line Newt Gingrich says in an interview on NPR All Things Considered this afternoon about why the $700B bailout is a bad idea (except for the part where he tries blaming Chris Dodd for the current mess—regular commenter PennyPincher won't go for that, either).
  • Jon Schaff rouses himself from self-imposed blog-exile to call for "reflection and deliberate choice, not panic," and again, all I think is, "Preach it, brother."
Isn't there still a Presidential election on? Shouldn't we all be arguing about moose-hunting?

Nothing like a request for a (again, say it slowly) seven hundred billion dollar blank check to clear everyone's senses fast.

I can't help thinking that if we could just call a national town meeting, get all three hundred million of us in a room, and ask, "Seven hundred billion dollars for Secretary Paulson, no strings attached—all in favor?" we'd get a smattering of ayes, mostly from nervous looking characters in pinstripe suits. Ask for those opposed, and we'd get a nay of Biblical proportions.

Am I imagining this sentiment? Am I too optimistic that Americans as a whole might still share some economic common sense? And my goodness—if I'm not imagining things, what might become of our politics if we could (as Jeff put it) just agree to agree?

By the way, call Herseth Sandlin, Johnson, and Thune, and tell them to say no way to the (say it slowly to them, too) seven hundred billion dollar blank check

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