Saturday, August 22, 2009

A failure to distinguish

Apparently there is a problem distinguishing between the "bailout" and the "stimulus" legislation that has been enacted over the last year:

The anxiety is expressed over health care, but the opening for the mistrust came from Obama's favoring of Wall Street.

From A Blue Dog's lament: 'People are scared' - POLITICO.com,

“I go to church. I hear it at church. They’re just afraid. They don’t trust this administration,” Webb said.

Exactly why is tougher to pin down, but it often returns to the same litany, a mix of conservative and populist frustrations. Webb cited the stimulus before wondering in his next breath: “I don’t understand how a company can fail and then the head of that company gets a $3 or $4 million bonus.”

People don't know the difference between the bailouts and the stimulus. People don't know that it was the Bush administration that bailed out Wall Street. And people don't understand why the Obama administration allowed those bonuses.
The bailouts were what I was calling The Great American Swindle last fall. I thought they were a bad idea, that the taxpayers would be hosed while the banksters went on behaving as normal. That has come to fruition. Folks should be rightly frustrated that the Obama White House basically continued the Bush II approach to bailing out the big banks. The stimulus legislation was what pumped money into state coffers, allowing cash strapped states to improve infrastructures and prop up such necessities as k-12 and higher education. The latter was a generally good idea that worked insofar as it was allowed to. Personally, I thought that the stimulus bill was a bit half-hearted and could have been much more generous - and had it been more generous, more of us would have noticed a positive change sooner. In spite of being largely blinded by neoliberal orthodoxy, somehow the White House and Congress managed to do just barely enough to keep us from plunging into what would have been Great Depression 2.0. If nothing else, it beat the very inept approach of the last Bush II year, which amounted to hand individual checks (as a sort of advance against the next year's tax return) that were supposed to spur consumption but which in reality simply ended up being used to - gasp - pay bills.

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