Groff and Ellison in Washington Times, 10.3.08 …

Posted in Uncategorized by groffellison on October 7, 2008

GROFF/ELLISON: Bailout bust


The saga of the bailout bill provides a crisp lesson in Politics 101 — how to effectively market policy. Sometimes, public policy is pure impression. How you sell an idea, or how it sounds, is just as critical as whether or not it really works. H.R. 3997 was badly marketed, taking Senate passage of a bill with a completely unrelated title to help push it through.

The White House pitching doomsday didn’t really help. We’ve been there, done that, they grumbled under the Capitol dome, recalling, weapons of mass destruction, blah, blah, blah — the taste of political bile in their throats. So, the “it’s my way or the world is road-kill on the highway” approach didn’t work this time. How dare they spin the notion of economic Armageddon after what they put us through, legislators complained. Not to mention their “guy,” their financial-rescue package version of Colin Powell, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. He appeared more the former day-trading guru he actually is than the macroeconomic savior he is not. He couldn’t finesse it. A 21st-century Paul Revere he was not. The Tea Party was already in full motion.

Besides, how do you support something called a “bailout?” One of America’s least popular terms, “bailout” is policy anathema – as ugly and unattractive as Terrell Owens crying on camera.

Nothing even remotely appeared to assist man and woman on the street. Why not transform all ARMs into fixed-rate mortgages? Why not put blanket forbearances on all foreclosures? Why not loan money to those behind on their mortgage payments? A little bankruptcy protection, please. Where’s my bailout? Where’s our Marshall Plan? Others screamed “socialism” and feared a somewhat despotic government takeover of the free-market system.


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