U.S. House to Nation: Drop Dead

While traveling home from Maine to Nashville late on Monday, I started and stopped several drafts of rants regarding the Profiles in Cowardice displayed by many members of the House of Representatives yesterday. Never has a headline captured the moment than this one from late in the night on Washingtonpost.com: “After $700B Bailout Is Rejected, Lawmakers Blame Each Other.”

I regret that members of the House were unable to overcome the pejorative label of “bailout” attached to the plan by the media and its opponents. As I wrote the other day, there’s no better way to get bipartisanship than by having it “branded” a bailout for Wall Street. Frankly, I couldn’t get a $7 Wall Street bailout passed, much less a $700 billion one.

The notion that this measure was not aimed at “bailing out Wall Street” will quickly become apparent. As apparent as those plastic bags that still cover the gas hoses at service stations all over Nashville — over two weeks after shortages in gasoline supplies here set off a run on gasoline stations — a run that is still keeping supplies low.

In this case, I hate to say, “I told you so.” I’d prefer to keep such reminders in the realm of sports predictions.

But just a few days ago, when I wrote about “the bailout,” I also predicted this outcome:

“The legislation will fail and the market will take a major hit. During the run-up to the election, there will be much shouting and gnashing of teeth and yelling of I told you sos and pointing of fingers and talking heads who can’t balance their checkbooks will spend hours trying to explain the way markets work.

Everyone running for office will say, ‘I was against the $700 billion Wall Street Bailout.’

Right after the election, Congress will be called into a special session where they will consider an emergency plan to provide liquidity to banks that need to lend money for mortgages and car loans and small business loans and loans for companies that employ, well, everyone.

It will be called a Main Street liquidity protection plan.

See, by November, we’ll all know what the word liquidity means and the role it plays in the life of Main Street.

Liquidity will be a killer brand. Liquidity will be the word of the year.

And no, I’m not for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout.

But I’m not for the people who are against it, either.

This is a time when I wish I had been wrong.