This is incredibly frustrating.
The Republicans are going to stick to their story that they opposed the bailout because it lacked sufficient protections for the American taxpayer. They're going to attempt this even though they are simultaneously claiming that the overly partisan tone of Nancy Pelosi's floor speech was responsible for the dearth of Republican votes.
All of the Republican leaders at their press conference today: Putnam, Boehner, Blunt and Cantor, did their bit of righteous indignation at the partisanship of Nancy Pelosi. Cantor, when it was finally his turn to speak, actually waved around a printed out copy of her speech like it was DNA evidence in a murder trial. Nevermind that Pelosi's tone is a completely separate reason from any provision of the bill. The way you know Cantor either doesn't understand or is negotiating in bad faith about the legislation at hand is that his brilliant "third way" insurance proposal didn't make any fucking sense.
I'm not entirely sure what happened today. It looks like the sheer unpopularity of the bailout among voters weighed heavily on a lot of incumbents currently in tight races. People who opposed it are finding this to be proof that the system works, but I'm not at all sure. In general it's good if policy is responsive to public opinion, but this situation seems like a textbook exception to this rule. For representatives who are convinced (as many claim to be) that federal dollars are needed to stave off another Great Depression, the bailout shouldn't require popular support to get their vote.
Watching Boehner and co speak last night, I was struck at how noncommittal they seemed about their ability to deliver Republican votes. Boehner declined to guess at the numbers. They said they'd be "making clear" to their members that they'd be voting yes, etc. etc., but they did not marry it. Minority whip Blunt said before the vote “We’ll do everything we can to make sure members of both parties [???] in substantial numbers vote for this bill.”
It makes enough sense to me why the Republicans would not want to give Democrats full bipartisan support for anything, even in legitimate crises like this. Lots of people have been pointing out that it would have been nice if Democrats had this reflex in 2002-3, and I agree with the sentiment even though if the parallels aren't there. But I thought they were just going to just put up enough resistance to make it Democratic-branded legislation. Now it looks like a Republican-branded legislative impasse followed quickly by a Republican-branded implosion of the stock market.
Complicating my reading about this crisis has been the terribleness of so much of the coverage by the liberal blogosphere. I'm not going to name names but pretty much everyone except BooMan has either been consistently anti-bailout for stupid reasons or, worse, used to be outraged until Krugman relented and Republicans started playing the spoiler.
Oh well. The silver lining is that this should be excellent news for Barack Obama.
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