Republicans, Repent!

Ilana Mercer, February 20, 2009

Barack has been a busy boy. After signing into law $787 billion of “Stim,” as Obama lapdog Keith Olbermann calls The Thing affectionately, the president went on to propose $75 billion to further rig the country’s already rigged mortgage industry.

The market—or what remains of it—is attempting to correct itself. Inflated home prices are deflating. Credit is on offer to the creditworthy only. The government, however, refuses to allow the swamp of toxic assets to drain.

Euphemized as “The Homeowner Affordability and Stability Plan,” Barack’s bright idea is to prop up delinquent borrowers who bit off more loan than they could chew or undertook risky, zero-down deals. On offer is more of what precipitated the subprime mortgage meltdown: cheap credit and artificially lowered interest rates. Where Barack innovates is in inserting himself between the contracting parties, and allowing for contingencies under which a judge may reduce the principal.

I predict the “Foreclosures Forestallment and Squatter Protection Act” is next.

Like all such “good” things, the latest rescue plan originated with a Republican. Only a week or two back, minority whip Sen. Mitch McConnell proposed a similar scheme whereby the government would lower home-loan interest rates and guarantee the loans.

Obama has picked up where Bush left off. Try as they do to deny it, it’s safe to say that if Republicans were in power, they, like Obama, would be continuing what Bush began.

It remains difficult to discern an abiding principle in the Republicans’ opposition to the “Stim.” Susan Collins encapsulated the “depth” of the philosophical to-be-or-not-to-be among Republikeynesians. The senator from Maine quibbled not about the error undergirding the plan to deficit spend the country out of bankruptcy, but rather over the need to “achieve the right balance, the right size, and the right mix of tax relief and spending proposals” to jumpstart the economy.

Still, Collins is more consistent than her rejectionist colleagues, some of whom were at pains to praise “the original Bush Troubled Asset Relief Program,” while rejecting Barack’s troubling panoply of programs. On what logical basis? In highly discerning Republican minds, there is, seemingly, a vast difference between fiddling with the financial sector and lavishing stuff on any and all à la Obama.

For those of us who wish to revive a debate about the proper, constitutional role of government, and the immorality and ineffectiveness of central planning─the distinction is bogus.

Bush handed Obama “almost $11 trillion in Treasury debt, and deficits of more than $1 trillion.” “W” also looted at least $1 trillion from the insolvent Social Security trust fund. His contribution to the mortgage meltdown cannot be overstated.

Under “W”, the right to pursue happiness became a right to happiness and a home.

Obama surely cheered his predecessor when the latter approved the American Dream Downpayment Act of 2003. Newsweek certainly did; it commended Bush for pushing policies that encouraged homeownership,

like the “zero-down-payment initiative,” which was much as it sounds—a government-sponsored program that allowed people to get mortgages without a down payment. More exotic mortgages followed, including ones with no monthly payments for the first two years. Other mortgages required no documentation other than the say-so of the borrower. [For the benefit of Bush’s illegal alien and criminal protégés]

Only a few months back, Republicans now baying about Obama’s spending voted for Bush’s $750 billion bank bail-out, and, earlier last year, for his “Stim.” As did they go along with the trillions Bush poured into wars and other welfare.

To its credit, the Republican National Committee made a last ditch attempt to draft a principled statement denouncing its leader’s nationalization of the nation’s banks and general proclivity for socialism. However, House Republicans neutralized the effort by helping to pass the financial sector bailout.

If party Republicans wish to convince conservatives of the seriousness of their recently discovered fiscal conservatism, they must stop pretending socialism began with Obama; they must quit making hyperbolic, false statements about Obama having killed capitalism. Acknowledge they must that America has been flouting the free market for ages; that Americans labor under a highly regulated economic system, which combines elements of socialism, fascism, and capitalism.

The GOP must first avow this state of affairs, then disavow it and vow to correct it.

Nor will the incessant squealing about the country’s slouch toward European-style socialism do. It only masks the real problem. Their highly socialized societies notwithstanding, Europeans have not been nearly as fiscally reckless as Americans. What does it say about the US, when the prime minister of statist France, François Fillon, “rejects “demands that the French government seek to stimulate consumer spending … to lift France out of its economic slump”? In a speech in Lyon, Fillon fumed that ‘it would be irresponsible to choose another policy, which would increase our country’s indebtedness.”

The defining characteristic of the Unites States is debt—public and private. America is a debtor nation. Socialism is secondary to state squandering—and a consequence of it.

Said Saint Augustine: “The confession of evil works is the first beginning of good works.” The Republican Party has done the devil’s work. To embark on the good, it must come clean about the bad.

  February 20, 2009

CATEGORIES: Barack Obama, Bush, Capitalism, Debt, Economy, Europe, Political Economy, Republicans, Socialism