Bailout Round II: A New Shade of Lipstick

The House of Representatives voted down Paulson’s Plunder on Monday, 225 to 208. Here’s why:

We demanded a No vote and for the first time in recent memory we were listened to. Thank you! Three cheers for the American people!

Now is not the time, however, to rest on our laurels. Speaker Pelosi is almost certain to dig deep in her purse for a different shade of lipstick she can smear on this pig in preparation for a re-vote, and it might be a deep Republican red. There were certainly some Republicans who voted No on Round One because the bill wasn’t even worse than it was, because it didn’t add further deregulation and/or tax cuts for the wealthy to the current catastrophe. Needless to say, Pelosi’s first inclination will be to go after those members’ votes.

On the other hand, Pelosi could go with a purplish gray and tack some more populist smelling features onto the first bill in hopes of puckering up this pig for some Democrats. Her main tactic if she takes this approach might be unrelated bribes and threats, combined with a hope that certain Democrats will feel comfortable telling their constituents that they voted No on Round One and must therefore be forgiven for voting Yes on Round Two. Don’t think these people won’t kiss this pig and use exactly that line. Therefore, those of us who want to prevent Paulson’s Plunder had better keep our phones on redial until we get through to Congress at (202) 224-3121 again and again and again.

What’s our message now? It’s a tentative Thank You to those who voted No combined with a demand that they not cave in, and a promise to work to unseat those who voted Yes unless they redeem themselves immediately. And how can they do that, and what do we want from Congress now? I’ll tell you what I want:

I want a bill immediately to ban predatory mortgage lending, ban states from preventing cities from restricting predatory lending, and commit the federal government to allowing states full freedom to restrict predatory lending.

I want a bill establishing a maximum wage at 10 times the minimum wage, and including all forms of income in that calculation (and raising the minimum wage how ever much required to pass the bill). I want the tax system created by that bill to pay for any necessary bailouts, and want such bailouts enacted and overseen by Congress.

I also want a Tobin tax on all transactions in finance, insurance, and real estate, including currency transactions.

I want Congress to haul fraudulent bankers into Washington and force them to testify, fire them without compensation as part of any bailouts, and refer them to the Justice Department for prosecution.

I want serious regulation of Wall Street.

I want a five-year moratorium on foreclosures, and a bailout of homeowners equal to any bailout of bankers.

And, finally, I want $700 billion invested in green energy jobs immediately, to be paid for by a tax on carbon emissions.

In fact, I would like to see all of these steps included in a single bill called the “Honest Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.” Somebody explain to me why that wouldn’t be a good move for our economy and a smart political step for those who propose it.

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