Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Event: The Bailout. A letter to Jan Schakowsky.

This is the only post that I will be writing today; the subject is too important and I do not want anything else to distract from it.

Below please find a copy of the letter I sent to Jan Schakowsky, my congressional representative. I will also be sending letters to Representatives Dale Kildee of Michigan, Edolphus Towns of New York, Senators Barack Obama and Dick Durbin of Illinois, Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer of New York, and Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow of Michigan.

I think this issue is very important. I encourage you to write your own letters, and you can borrow any portion of mine if you think it would be helpful. In this case, letters to Representatives will be more significant than letters to Senators. Be sure to note whether you are part of their constituency.

Dear Ms. Schakowsky,

I remember hearing you speak with Senator Biden at a rally in Skokie in 2004, so that day has been prominent in my memory for the last several weeks. I'm writing you today to urge you to reconsider your vote of "yes" on the bailout package that will be moving through congress again in a few days.

I know that you and many of your peers in Congress supported this bill while "holding their noses," to paraphrase Senator Clinton. And yet while I know that the economic crisis is real, and a response is needed, it is just as important to respond appropriately and rationally as it is to respond quickly. It is a feature of the stock market (as we saw in the Monday decline of the DOW and its resurgence Tuesday) that investors have the advantage of responding quickly and the tendency to not respond in a particularly deliberative manner.

We look to our elected officials for responsible leadership, not the stock market.

It is with this in mind that I offer a few considerations, and point out that, yes, these are things I consider about when deciding who to vote for:

1) The White House plan to address this crisis represents almost every possible extreme. It is an extreme in the amount of money requested ($700 billion being an arbitrarily high figure), in the lack of oversight required for that money (the last bill's tax penalties for companies seeking protection and "transparency" via the agency distributing the money), and from all reputable news sources, the new bill is largely being shaped by concessions to Republicans.

2) Many economists, such as David Sirota, Paul Krugman, and the team at The Nation, among others do not believe that this plan will best amend the problem, largely because it does not provide sufficient oversight. The "concessions" to CEO compensation caps and transparency are a joke: what meaningful oversight occurs when the agency that disburses money gets to monitor the use of the funds?

3) It is appropriate that Paulson plan is a response to a sub-prime mortgage; $700 billion dollars in short order would mortgage the Obama administration. The last time Democrats had the opportunity to make real progress on issues such as health care and education was fourteen years ago. Any acceptable bill has to incorporate a timetable of disbursements, because unnecessary expenditure at even a small percentage of $700 billion is a horribly large chunk of our economy. A timetable, on the other hand, attached to $50 or $100 billion disbursements would give Obama and the next congress an opportunity to introduce progressive changes to the bill, and so doing, provide the long term solution that we cannot obtain in this deregulated environment.

4) When doctors practice with incompetence, it is malpractice and illegal. When an attorney misrepresents the law or her client, it is malpractice and illegal. We require our legal and medical professionals to act with knowledge and discipline because their actions constantly and profoundly affect the lives of those with whom they interact. It is time for Wall Street to be held similarly accountable. Those who brought about this crisis through greed and incompetence should be held guilty of malpractice, and this is the right and fitting time to establish such a notion.

I won't tell you to unconditionally vote down the bill that will be presented very shortly to the House of Representatives. I do urge you to act with deliberation, and do not support any bill that panders to a shrinking Republican minority. It is rightly observed that the costs of inaction are high, but Democrats should not forget that the middle and lower-class have been suffering for years under a housing and health care crisis that did *not* require immediate action and did *not* result in a congressional bailout.

The sky is not falling today.

Don't vote for any bailout plan that does not deserve your vote.


Connor Coyne

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