Bush and his finance managers seemingly leapt out of the box early this week when they announced an immediate $700 billion plan to buy out dead assets and underwrite the liabilities of the finance and investment sector. In effect, the US government will not anymore be a regulator of the private economic players; it decided to be the commanding player, dwarfing everybody else.
That it put forward such an unprecedented proposal to a Democratic Congress in the year of the presidential elections showed the desperate straits of the US financial (and eventually the economic) system as well as the Republicans’ presidential campaign. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama immediately surged in rating, topping 52 percent in some surveys to Republican presidential bet John McCain’s 44 percent. The Palin “good conservative feel” evaporated under the scorching issue of a threatening economic meltdown. Going into the first presidential debate, the Democrats had a legitimate, close-to-American hearts issue that spans across the political divide–the US recession.
The foundations of this recession were laid during the first Bush term with its laid-back, hands-off regulation of the financial system, started to make itself felt in his second term, and is now going into its full-blown phase as the man leaves the office. There is nothing Republicans can do to offset the blame going their way; there’s nothing that Sen. McCain can do to divert the eyes of American voters from the riveting scene of the inexorable destruction, one after the other, of American giant financial institutions.
The Bush $700 billion gamble is solely targeted to prevent this collapse and salvage a developing Republican rout in the coming elections. At most, it will only delay the inevitable as injection of liquidity is only good as the level of fear and loss of confidence among depositors, investors, and among banks themselves. The Democrats–who controls Congress–suspected this and renegotiated the Bush package to include protection of the small people (read: voters), and restrictions on the managements of banks and other financial institutions.
The Bush bluff had been called and he will have no choice but to give in to the Democrats’ position–he has no room to maneuver with the stock markets slide nipping at his heels. At this point, the Obama campaign calls the shot, as shown by McCain’s sudden reversal of a decision not to go on with the presidential debate.
Unfortunately for McCain and the Republicans, the economic crisis is THE ISSUE. And it’s not theirs but the Democrats’ and Obama’s.