Friday, January 9, 2009

Bailout Misery

Governor Sanford has a well-reasoned piece on NRO:

"Each bailout leads many who work hard and take prudent risks to wonder why they should work hard while Washington strays toward a political economy — one in which you need the right lobbyists or a loud voice to be heard by Congress. There’s no bailout for your cousin across town or your brother-in-law’s little business; they didn’t pass muster with those in Washington who are picking winners and losers in today’s political marketplace.

Similar measures to stimulate the economy were tried without success in the 1930s. Prescribing the wrong medicine for an illness can make the patient still sicker. In downturns caused by excess production or inventory, current stimulus efforts could have worked because the goal is to spur consumer spending. By contrast, what we face today is a balance-sheet crisis, and in this situation, a stimulus like the one proposed will have little effect. We were told by leaders in Washington last spring that if we just sent $150 billion in stimulus checks things would get better, and we were told the same thing as we saw $2.3 trillion spent and committed to various stimuli and bailouts for the year. The tab for what’s been committed has now crossed $7 trillion — half of the yearly U.S. economy. Our leaders in Washington sound less credible with each new attempt.

The new administration’s bailout proposal is said to total between $700 to $800 billion. In a global slowdown, with a $67 trillion world economy, can another 1 percent make a difference? It’s as if we’ve tried to sweeten a local lake with truckloads of sugar and, upon seeing that this didn’t work, propose to toss in a box of donuts and confidently proclaim, 'Now that will make the difference!' "

From Bad Beltway Medicine.