Marathons and economic bailouts

I’m pretty much taking it easy today. I’m going to run a half marathon in Akron tomorrow morning. So I didn’t even run this morning despite the fact that the weather is absolutely perfect: cool, clear and a light breeze. Maybe all the hot air is in Washington these days.

Looks like the members of Congress and the administration are in for another marathon session today trying to save Wall Street and nationalize the economy. Good luck with the House Republicans. They are all up for reelection in November — and something tells me the free-market conservatives are going to have some explaining to do when they leave the Beltway for Main Street.

And according to an article in Politico — “House GOP stands firm — for now” — they may not go for a deal at all. Here’s from the article:

According to one GOP lawmaker, some House Republicans are saying privately that they’d rather “let the markets crash” than sign on to a massive bailout.

“For the sake of the altar of the free market system, do you accept a Great Depression?” the member asked.

President Bush’s lame duck status, and his heavy hand in dealing with lawmakers in his own party for the last seven-plus years, is also coming back to haunt the White House, as House Republicans grumble that Bush is “trying to tear up the Constitution” by committing the federal government to such a massive intervention in the U.S. financial markets.

Oh boy. Something tells me I’m going to have an easier time with the half marathon.

But E.J.Dionne Jr., writing in The Washington Post this morning, says there will be a bailout. Why? Fear.

The simple truth is that Washington is petrified about this crisis and will pass something. There are dark fears floating through the city that foreign investors, particularly the Chinese, might begin to pull their billions out of our system.

Scarier than the bad mortgages are those unregulated credit default swaps that financier George Soros has been warning about. There are $45 trillion of those esoteric instruments sloshing around the global financial system. They were invented as a hedge against debt defaults, but even the financial smart guys don’t fully understand their impact or how to price their real value.

Fear is a terrible motivator for careful legislating, but it’s a heck of a way to bring about a lot of bipartisanship. McCain jumped into this game in the fourth quarter. Many of the players on the field, caked in mud and exhausted but determined as they approach the goal line, wonder why this new would-be quarterback has suddenly appeared in their midst.

And I’m afraid I won’t be able to stay up late enough tonight to watch the presidential debate. That’s if McCain shows up. Who knows. He may still be running in place with the House Republicans in Washington.

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