Thursday, December 11, 2008


This got lost in all the excitement yesterday, and I realize it was probably an exercise in futility, but it got me thinking:

Congressional lawmakers gave the Treasury Department two pieces of advice on Wednesday about the nation’s financial rescue plan: First, follow the money. Second, fight more aggressively against the rising tide of home foreclosures.

Specifically, the lawmakers insisted that the department do more to monitor what banks do with federal money that they receive and tie more strings to that capital to make sure it is used to provide credit to homeowners, small businesses and consumers.

And they demanded that Treasury pay more attention to developing a plan to prevent foreclosures that can be applied broadly and quickly.

Those instructions were common themes in an often contentious hearing by the House Financial Services Committee, called by Barney Frank....

It occurred to me that we got into this underregulation mess, and are still in it, because in the Bush era (and, yes, the Clinton/Gingrich/Gramm era), we've approached financial malfeasors essentially the way right-wingers say Democrats want to approach foreign enemies.

You know the stereotype: Democrats don't believe in the notion of evil. Democrats don't believe in ever employing toughness. Democrats think you can just sit around the campfire and sing "Kumbaya" with people who want to do us harm.

In reality, that's not at all the attitude of Democrats toward, say, Al Qaeda, but it is, in fact, the modern era's approach to the financial terrorists who've gotten us into this mess: They're not really evil. Force is to be avoided whenever possible. Just appease them and they won't don't any harm -- in fact, appease them when they've done harm. And that's still the attitude of the outgoing president.

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