"The 700 Billion Dollar Welfare Handout"
A $700 billion welfare handout? Could this be an isonomic dream come true?
Nope, no such luck. In fact, it's more like a nightmare.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has asked Congress for 700 billion (billion with a B) dollars to bail out our nation's troubled financial sector. The implicit claim behind the massive demand is that the economy will crash if we refuse, because the businesses in question are "too big to fail."
The crisis is largely a result of defaulted high-risk mortgages coming back to bite lenders in the backside. But instead of making lenders and insurers accountable for the results of their predatory, exploitative lending practices, we are expected to bail them out to the tune of nearly twice the entire national defense budget. Go figure.
Buh-buh-but wait, it gets worse.
Not satisfied to merely ask for a no-strings-attached $700 billion wealth transfer from the poor and middle-class to the obscenely wealthy, Paulson wants to make sure that none of the executives and CEO's involved lose their "golden parachutes" - their mega-million-dollar winning lottery tickets predicated on company failure. This goes beyond a refusal to hold the failed companies accountable. It borders on the absurd, and makes the bailout more like a pyramid scheme in which the founders cash out and leave the victims holding the bag.
President Bush has advised that the bailout be passed quickly to avoid risking further damage to the delicate global economy. Personally, that's a risk I'm willing to take to stop the super-rich from getting an enormous free-lunch welfare handout in a nation that begrudges its poor their meager food stamps.