The Bailout Bill

9/30/2008 02:57:00 PM

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bailout3 Everyone has been calling it the $700 billion bailout, but it actually has a title:

To amend the International Revenue Code of 1986 to provide earnings assistance and tax relief to members of the uniformed services, volunteer firefighters, and Peace Corps volunteers, and for other purposes.

That's the official title.  The unofficial (short) title is Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.  Here's the full text of the bill (PDF). 

Some interesting things to note about this bill being voted on.

  1. Speaker Pelosi specifically promised that members and the public would have 24 hours to read the bill before it was brought up on the House floor.  House rules require three calendar days, but that "three-day rule" was waived routinely by both Democrats and Republicans.  (For the record, the House Republican majority in recent years did not even allow 24 hours for important bills like the Medicare drug bill, Patriot Act, etc.)  Under House rules, the clock on time to read BEGINS when the bill is made available.  The bill was posted on the website of the House Financial Services Cmt Sunday evening, sometime around 5:30pm EDT, according to an announcement made by Pelosi in a press conference.  Under House rules, the clock measuring time to read ENDS when the bill is called up for consideration on the floor.  The bill was brought up Monday afternoon, less than 24 hours.
  2. The Glass-Stegall Act of 1933, separated the business of lending institutions and securities institutions.
  3. Is it Constitutionally legal for the government to purchase assets from private companies for profit? 
  4. "If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks.... will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent of their fathers conquered... The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs."  - Thomas Jefferson

One major point to make of this "bill" is the definition, or rather vague definition of "Troubled Assets". 

Sec. 3. Definitions

   (9) TROUBLED ASSETS. - The term "troubled assets" means -

      (A) residential or commercial mortgages any any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages, that in each ease was originated or issued on or before March 14, 2008, the purchase of which the Secretary determines promotes financial market stability; and

      (B) any other financial instrument that the Secretary, after consultation with the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, determines the purchase of which is necessary to promote financial market stability, but only upon transmittal of such determination, in writing, to the appropriate committees of Congress.

Basically, what I get from this definition is that any mortgages, etc. that were originated or issued on or before March 14, 2008, basically the Treasurer can determine as a "Troubled Asset".  But there is no definition of what "troubled" means.  It's nothing but opened ended, which means, the Treasurer could take over ANY mortgage, whether it be with a bank that is financially secure or not, that it feels is "troubled", with no approval from anyone else.  Consultation does not mean approval.

One other surface issue, obviously no one has read this bill before voting on it. 

In TITLE I - Troubled Assets Relief Program, Sec. 116. Oversight and Audits. (a) COMPTROLLER GENERAL OVERSIGHT (3) REPORTING, it states the following:

REPORTING:  The Comptroller General shall submit reports of findings under this section, regularly and no less frequently than once every days..................

Umm.. how many days is "once very days"?

The problem with this bill, is that it is being rushed.  Definitions are vague, there are obvious overlooked issues, and no one has time to really think about this.

The problem isn't with making a decision on passing this bill, it's being able to live with the choice you made on whether this bill is passed or not and the actions that follow to our economy from said actions.

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