I haven’t written too much about this whole financial mess yet, because for a long time I didn’t really know what to think.  I know that I think it is funny that conservatives, who for years had bashed government intervention in their sacred markets, suddenly get on their knees to beg for a bailout of the greedy Wall Street execs who messed things up while playing with our money. I also do think this was completely avoidable, and that the conservative economic philosophy that has been around for a few decades is mostly to blame.

As for the current negotiations for a bailout bill, my thoughts are not forming along party lines.  I think the Democrats have, once again, been too weak when dealing with the Bush administration, especially one that is thought of as political poison.  This administration should not be scaring anyone but itself.  If this bill permits $700 billion to be its baseline figure, the congressional Democrats have screwed themselves and lost a lot of credibility, as that figure was clearly not an intentionally set one — it was just “a really big number” that the Bush administration thought sounded good. If you’re a congressional Democrat, forty days out from choosing a new leader for the nation and with economists saying that the threat to the system has been greatly exaggerated, why rush into agreeing on a bill with such a faulty foundation?  I actually think the House Republicans — although possessing an incredibly incompetent track record — might be the best voice of the people in this situation.

Instead, my thoughts are forming among the elite/average citizen line I wrote about yesterday.  The biggest question I have through this whole mess is what is keeping all of us from seeing/hearing the actual presentation Henry Paulson delivered to the leaders of Congress that painted this whole situation as grave.  Markos at Daily Kos is thinking the same thing and wrote about it:

See, this is my biggest pet peeve about this entire fiasco. There has been zero effort to educate the American people about why the situation is so urgent. There have been a lot of proclamations that the situation is urgent, but still no explanation.

I asked both Reid’s office and Pelosi’s office about releasing Paulson’s presentation to the leadership to the American people, so we can all see what supposedly has them all so spooked that we have to mortgage the next several generations of Americans. Reid’s office was non-committal (i.e. “I hear you”, but no movement toward full transparency), and Pelosi’s office blew me off.

Maybe Frank or Dodd can clue us in? I mean, we know they think it’s the end of the fucking world, but this isn’t Iraq, there’s no pretensions of “secret intelligence” and “protecting sources” to hide behind. If they want the peoples’ representatives to sign off, then don’t treat us like damn toddlers too delicate to see the facts.

Because from where I’m sitting, it looks just like the Iraq War bullshit, and we all know how those dire “facts” ended up turning out. Either offer full transparency, or stop whining about people skeptical about this solution to the crisis.

He’s right — this is not Iraq or any other foreign policy crisis that would give these elites cover for not being transparent.  These people are there representing us, the citizens and the people who are giving them this money to play with.  We at least deserve an explanation of why things are as serious as they are (and no, Bush’s speech didn’t offer that).

This waiting around for the important people to make decisions for us is what has gotten us into trouble over the last couple decades.  We need to start being more active and responsible citizens, but Congress also needs to adjust its act to allow us to do so.  We have just as much a right to the “behind the scenes” information as they do.  For once, there’s no executive privilege, no secret intelligence, nothing to keep our government from being forthcoming except the officeholders’ and lobbyists’ fear of what might happen if they told everyone that we had time to craft a great, pragmatic, and progressive piece of legislation.