Be afraid, be very afraid...
President Bush said Wednesday that lawmakers risk a cascade of wiped-out retirement savings, rising home foreclosures, lost jobs and closed businesses if they fail to act on a massive financial rescue plan. "Our entire economy is in danger," he said.
"Without immediate action by Congress, American could slip into a financial panic and a distressing scenario would unfold," Bush said in a 12-minute prime-time address delivered from the White House East Room that he hoped would help rescue his tough-sell bailout package. "Ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession."
Said Bush: "We must not let this happen."[..]
"With the situation becoming more precarious by the day, I faced a choice: to step in with dramatic government action or to stand back and allow the irresponsible actions by some to undermine the financial security of all," Bush said.
You know, if we hadn't heard some variation on this "mushroom cloud" speech more than a half dozen times from Bush over the last eight years, it might actually have some more weight. Not that there isn't a crisis, but he's threatening us with a "long and painful recession"? Has he not been paying attention recently? Steve Clemons:
Tonight, George Bush succeeded I think in scaring Americans that this crisis could be a systemic threat. Bush said "our entire economy is in danger."
That's the fear button. He pushed it. And he said the clock was ticking.
This seems like a bad episode of "24."
What is shocking about the presentation by Bush -- and the deal that is unfolding is that we don't see any acceptance of responsibility for the failure of his team's stewardship of the economy. We didn't hear acknowledgment that the compulsive deregulation mantra of Bush's political and economic allies created a massive bubble where lots of billionaires were created and now tens of millions of less fortunate Americans are holding the bill.
We didn't hear Bush say that it's time to reverse the tax cuts that he put in place to help those who have already benefited from the perverse finance and housing bubble that was pumped up.
We didn't hear a firm commitment from Bush to help the working families who hold these sub-prime and adjustable rate mortgages to stay in their homes and to help stabilize the lives of hard-hit Americans, their neighborhoods and their jobs. All the while, the macro players and big firms and their stakeholders are bailed out.
We probably do need to float major funds into the financial sector -- but there needs to be a quid pro quo written in to the deal, a new social contract that does away with the "winner takes all syndrome" that has helped rot out America's economic promise.
And we need to hear what comes after the bail out. This nation is heading into recession -- and is probably already there.