When word reached the twin centers of finance in the capital of the world, the grand old New York Stock Exchange and the more modern NASDAQ MarketSite, they rose as one and cried, "NO U!" The men and women of the leading banks and investment houses dug down and got in touch with their inner two-year-old, and threw a temper tantrum. A 1.2 tera-dollar ($1,200,000,000,000) temper tantrum; that's how much money vanished from the portfolios. While the six-percent drop in the Dow is far less than seen in 1987 or 1929, there's still a hell of a psychological impact from seeing "DJIA: -777". The financial community achieved its desired goal - it brought to bear just how the lack of a rescue package would affect Main Street.
And so the two Houses set to work again, resolved to get a bill through, notwithstanding the will of the people or the text of the Constitution. Wednesday night, a 74-25 vote in favor of the revised bill in the Senate saw Obama, McCain, and Biden all on the wrong side of the ledger. Yesterday, the House didn't exactly give a ringing endorsement - had the President been of the opposite (i.e. correct) mind, 263 votes would not have overridden a veto. But he, more than anyone else save maybe Henry Paulson, wanted the power and the dollars, and he wanted them NOW, damn it.
Now, a day later, CNN is already wondering whether it was the right thing to do. Last weekend, I mentioned the posts of Mark Cuban, who knows a thing or two about business; now, it seems that more and more are agreeing with them. Confidence is still low, credit is still tight, and both banks and people are moving into cash and squeezing it as tight as they can. And with the Treasury printing hundreds of billions more American dollars, our currency may deflate even more.
Regardless of the ultimate impact on the economy, passage of this bill is a body blow to our traditions of individual liberty and limited government. More so than at any time since the Great Depression, those twin pillars upon which this nation was forged have been undercut. Our system of checks and balances has been shredded to pieces. Some members of the legislature understand this; Representative McCotter of Michigan made a heroic and principled speech last week. Ron Paul has pushed for these cherished old-school ideals for as long as he's been in Congress, and he took Ben Bernanke to school in committee. The foundation of American exceptionalism, slowly eroded over the past three quarters of a century, may have been damaged irreparably. Two hundred thirty two years ago, we threw off the chains of rule by a tyrannical king. And yet now, so many are content to once again place such vast power in the hands of so few, without adequate capacity for review. It is a sad day when a small group of people can fleece their three hundred million countrymen to this extent. But the real tragedy is the loss of what is truly the American way.