Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Didn’t We Do This Before?

I know it seems like we’ve done this before (we have), but the federal government is bailing out AIG to the tune of $30B plus a relaxation of the terms of its existing loan. Even the New York Times reporter seems dubious:

Federal officials, who worked feverishly over the weekend to complete the restructuring, said they thought they had no choice but to prop up A.I.G., because its business and trading activities are so intricately woven through the world’s banking system. But the deal also presents more financial risks to taxpayers at a time when the public and Congress have been sharply questioning the wisdom of risking federal money to bail out private enterprises.

One wonders when the populist outrage over bailouts for wayward homeowners, GM, Chrysler, Citibank, and AIG (again) will impact the administration. It seems to be operating without Congressional authorization in the new imperial presidency of unilateral appropriation. (George W. Bush started down this road when Congress had the nerve to rebuff his auto bailout proposal in the waning days of his administration.)

In normal times, when Congress was in charge of appropriations, popular opinion would register with congressmen and senators and slow down or block legislation. But what and who is to stop a president who acts without Congress and is impervious to polling or popular protest? When money is no longer an object (what’s another $30B in debt, after all?) and the legislative branch is removed from the process there isn’t much to slow down the train. If Congress remains too timid to intervene, the public has little recourse — until the next election.

And, yes, all the pundits and Congressional liberals who decried an imperial presidency are noticeably, but not surprisingly, quiet. In addition to the aggregation of executive power, you would think they’d take note of the seamlessness between the final months of the Bush administration (e.g. Geithner, bailout mania, non-communication about both the big picture and the specifics) and the Obama administration. Weren’t we all hoping for change?



Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.