This weekend I watched Mitt Romney on one of the Sunday political shows. He gives lips service to free markets and then turns around and spends half his time talking about how we need a stimulus. Not the $1T spending style, but one mixed with spending and tax cuts. We've seen a number of moderate Republicans duck their heads and acquiesce to massive government intervention. Why? Because they are afraid. They haven't taken the time to properly educate themselves on economics, so they just want to look busy until it blows over.
If Republicans want to revive their influence, they have to take a stand. They have to start not just talking, but shouting, that we must end these bailouts and so-called stimulus packages. The average American does not like this at all. They are getting angry, and if the economy doesn't recover soon there is going to be hell to pay for the party left holding the bag. If Republicans speak up loudly now, they won't be holding that bag.
Brent Budowsky, from The Hill, has a column today with a lot populist overtones that echoes some of the sentiment that I see growing.
Americans have begun an angry backlash against bailouts that could become a national revolt in 2009.
Virtually none of this money directly helps average Americans. Virtually none of it trickles down to the people who suffer the most and pay for the program.
The public backlash is only beginning. It will rise with every new scandal and Ponzi scheme and every new increase in credit card rates. It has already infected good judgment in the auto case, where major support is needed, tied to major plans for industry renewal.
I do not oppose bailouts, I oppose bailouts managed with banana-republic standards of secrecy and incompetence in which recipients of massive taxpayer largesse work against those who pay for this largesse.
Bailout money is not a private account that belongs to Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, Fed governors, the Treasury secretary or the banks. It is the people’s money. It should be used to benefit the people. It should be monitored through the checks and balances of the democratic process.
Secrecy is the enemy of equity, integrity and common sense. Secrecy is the friend of negligence, misjudgment and corruption. There are probably selected instances where the Fed should not disclose, but show me $2 trillion of secretly spent money and I will show you trouble.
In the coming days I will be writing about the Bloomberg case and offering specific bailout proposals on The Hill’s Pundits Blog. The backlash is coming. Time is short. The dangers are extreme.