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Susan Estrich
5 Feb 2016
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Profiles in Cowardice


If you didn't know it, you'd never guess that 95 percent of all House members get re-elected every two years without breaking a sweat. You'd never think that the hardest thing about the House of Representatives is getting in. You probably wouldn't believe that while 90 percent of the American public disapproves of the Congress as a whole, almost as many think that their own representative is the exception, the one good egg in a rotten dozen. Maybe after this week they'll realize that if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, guess what?

The vote on the bailout bill was nothing less than a colossal sham. It might almost be funny, were it not for the crazy contractions it is causing in the economy, not to mention the brazen efforts of both sides to use the crisis for political advantage.

This is one of those bills that is supposed to pass by one vote, one of those occasions where neither side wants to take the blame for what has to be done, so both position to try to get as many of "theirs" and as few of "ours" voting yes as possible. Someone wasn't counting right this week. Back to the abacus. Maybe they should just do it by acclamation, on an unrecorded voice vote. Everyone knows how this movie has to end. But no one wants their name in the credits.

To state the obvious, bailing out the bozos for whom 20 or 30 million a year just wasn't enough is not going to "test" well in public opinion polls. Maybe the representatives from the Upper East Side of Manhattan or greater Greenwich, Conn., can claim that in voting yes, they were truly serving their home constituencies, but for virtually everyone else, this looks like Robin Hood gone wrong — stealing from the poor to help the rich, not the other way around.

Most of us would love to see the Wall Street billionaires and multimillionaires drown in their own debt, if they were the only ones who would.

Let them taste what the rest of us deal with every day. Do I care that the boys in the banks are facing disaster? Not even a little.

In my day, which is the same day as most of the senior executives responsible for this mess, the smart people went to law school and medical school. We wanted to save the world, or at least the psyche next door. The joke was that only the dumb preppies went to business school. (Did someone say George W. Bush?) Plenty of room in the middle.

So should we be surprised that they messed up, these so-called titans of finance with hearts full of greed and feet of clay? No.

And is it our job to dig them out of the mess they created?

The easy answer, if you're not responsible for the even bigger mess that looms, is no. The numbers that matter to talk radio hosts are the ratings. No one elected them to put country first. The numbers that matter to politicians in tight races are the ones in the polls, particularly the one taken on Election Day. There's no second chance if you're back selling used cars.

The kicker to the spectacle this week on the floor of the House is how few of the guys and gals who voted "no" are in tight races, how few have actually turned down contributions from the clowns they were denouncing, how many of them were playing for the stands in the hopes that someone else would do the dirty work of saving the economy.

By the time the Democrats finished denouncing the Republicans for deregulating Wall Street and the Republicans finished denouncing the Democrats for giving Fannie and Freddie blank checks, there weren't enough votes for the cod-liver oil. What a shock. Almost as big a shock as the chickens coming home to roost for greed gone wild.

To find out more about Susan Estrich and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at



9 Comments | Post Comment
Why is it that the billionaires such as Warren Buffett aren't putting up their own billions to save their own companies? Why are they keeping their billions in ill gotten gain, and telling the working class we shall have to pay off their debt? Is it because there is an undercurrent in this entire fiasco that in some way we, the working class, are responsible? How many of us really understand finances and economics? Now, due to our trust and ignorance, guilt is placed on us and the subtle and not so subtle message is that we have to pay for our enjoyment and small prosperity while losing our homes and threats of losing our jobs and way of life if we don't do what they say. I say let "them" lose their jobs and their way of life. Take money out of their bank accounts to pay off the debt caused not by our recklessness, but theirs. Then put them in jail. Do not bailout. If we don't bail them out, they'll have to right themselves. You know they will. If they allow this economy to collapse there will be nowhere for them to go. The entire global economy would collapse and it aint gonna happen. They have spread fear and panic to all, don't buy into it. They are the one's that should be fearful. You can bet they are in a panic. Don't approve the bailout.
Comment: #1
Posted by: liz
Tue Sep 30, 2008 10:01 PM
Susan I think you have most of it right, but, I see politics playing a bigger part in this game of "Chicken". It was recorded that 95 Democrats did not vote yes, but, NO. On the Republican side it was recorded that 133 voted yes.
However, remember the Harry Reid statement that if John McCain does not come back and get the Republicans to vote for the bill it would not pass and then turned around and blamed him for getting in the way of getting the bill passed. This was followed by all the other top Democrats making the same statement of McCain getting in the way on the TV screens across America. The Republicans stated that Nancy Pelosi with her blame the Republicans for the mess to start with may or may not turned off Republican voters, but, I am sure that the people of San Francisco will vote her back into office.

Warren Buffett makes no bones about his investment of $5 billion because he knows with the bail out his $5 billion will return over $10 billion inside of two short years. He has already turned a profit of over $700 million as he is getting an 18% return on his investment. Oc course he is friends with Paulson who is also a Democrat.

I personally think that the entire bill should be restructured to benefit the people and force the bankers involved to pay back every penny in order to be saved. But, none of this money should be used to finance houses again or give anything to ACORN as they have already been proven to be corrupt. I further think that it is time to stop all campaign cotributions from anyone except individuals and this amount to be a total of $5000 for a couple or $2500 for a single person and that all campaigns have to post their donations online for the entire world to see.
This would make the campaigns less expensive and everyone could see how much money a candidate has to spend on the campagn. About the only way to restore Honest Government.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Gene44
Wed Oct 1, 2008 3:13 AM
The American people did not want the bailout bill. For whatever reason, the House voted it down. Now the senate will take up the issue this evening. They've put in a few extra tax breaks but a pig is still a pig. Since both presidential candidates want this, I am sure it will pass the senate and then the house will fall in line. The spectacle in Washington should be all the incentive American people need to start cleaning house. (and senate)
This has been no more than a rush to judgement based in fear and panic. No other plan was considered. The Democrats in the House have presented a plan which worked in the 80's when 400 banks failed. It would cost the taxpayers zero. Unfortunately, it won't see the light of day. Is this the Pearl Harbor of our financial markets or Chicken Little on steroids? By the time it's sorted out, it will be way too late.
Comment: #3
Posted by: jbaugher
Wed Oct 1, 2008 5:01 AM
Susan, NAME NAMES of those who caused this mess. This is a Democratic scandal and of course you don't hear about that!!! I challenge you as an American to go further and name the people who made money from all of this and caused this downfall!!!! Chris Dodd, Chuckie Schumer, Charlie Rengal and Obama just to name a few. Who politically helped cause this mess is Bill Clinton. I can not understand how the politician do not fear the rath of God for they have all sold their souls for power and greed. Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are people who are so indebted to the left that they can not make a rational decision to help save our country. They are embarrassing and should just do what is right for our country not what elite want them to do. GOD is watching us and biblically this all has to happen if we do not turn back to him.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Kathaleen McCausland
Wed Oct 1, 2008 5:35 AM
Susan, your "pox on both houses" screed indicates to me that you understand it was your party who bears the greatest responsibility for the mess we find ourselves in. Let's start with the Community Reinvestment Act, which forces lenders to make subprime loans. Next we have the liberal advocacy groups (no doubt led by "community organizers") and trial lawyers suing financial institutions for not making enough bad loans to satisfy the CRA. Then we have Fannie and Freddie, telling the financial institutions to make as many subprime loans as they can, because Fan and Fred will guaranty them. Finally, we have the Dems in Congress wallowing in contributions from Fan and Fred, and (coincidentally, I'm sure) resisting all attempts to reform them. Oh yeah, then you have Greenspan and Bernanke flooding the economy with money at negative interest rates. That would be the fuel that turned the fire into a conflagration. The banks had to do something with that money; might as well make loans. All the good credit risks already have loans? Well then make loans to bad credit risks. That's what Congress, Fan and Fred were urging, so might as well do it. Pres. Bush and the Republicans tried at least twice during Bush's presidency to reform the GSEs by, among other things, limiting their exposure to just the kind of crap investments that brought them down. The Wall St. Journal editorial page has warned about the risk of Fannie and Freddie's undiversified exposure to mortgages for years. And Nancy Pelosi has the audacity to argue that it is deregulation and Bush's policies that led us to this? Her balls are way bigger than mine. The only lack of regulation that caused this is the failure to properly regulate the GSEs. Combine that with the well meaning but misguided regulation known as the CRA, then add gobs of cheap money from the Fed, and voila, you have a worldwide financial meldown. Thanks, Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Obama, Franklin Raines, et al. Susan, you're smart enough to understand this.
Comment: #5
Posted by: Paul
Wed Oct 1, 2008 10:00 AM
This is just me wanting to spout off because I know it won't change. I have always hated the two-year representative term. They spend one there and another campaigning. Can't we do four, letting half do one election year and half another? Something needs to change. Then a Senator gets six. Crazy. I wish Americans would rise up and punish at the polls. If I didn't think it was a waste, I'd vote third part just to shut up McCain and Obama and their crap. I doubt seriously that either of them wants to "serve" the country. Let's face it, they want the power and prestige that goes with the position. Has any president really been able to do what he promises? We just keep voting 'em in because they are going to change it all. Obama cannot possibly pay for all this stuff but it will be someone else's fault - not the fact that he can't possibly do it. I have heard education and health insurance for thirty years. It's worse than ever. Get real people!
Comment: #6
Posted by: Lynn
Wed Oct 1, 2008 1:22 PM
The main cause of this mess is sub prime mortgage lending to people who could not make the house payments in the first place. It was a set up to hook the taxpayers, and it worked. Congratulations.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Edster
Thu Oct 2, 2008 5:40 PM
Exactly what the other posters said. When you hear about how both sides are responsible, you know it's the Democrats' fault. I noticed also that Susan couldn't resist one more little dig about how stupid the president is supposed to be. I think more than those things, however, is that I'm sick of hearing about how this supposedly represents a failure of capitalism and that more regulation will cure what ails us. In reality, it's exactly the other way around - collectivism failed and the government needs to get the hell out of the way and allow the market to correct itself. I'm disgusted that my tax dollars are now going to be used to buy up all those defaulted mortgages, a crisis that the Clinton and Carter administrations helped create.
Comment: #8
Posted by: Matt
Sun Oct 5, 2008 3:36 PM
George W. Bush committed a crime when he, as president of Harken Oil sat in on a board meeting that revealed that the company was tanking. He immediately left the room while the meeting was still going on and sold his stock, over 800,00 shares before the rest of the public had the benefit of the certain to follow press release of that information. Members of my family owned shares in Harken Oil and lost a great deal of money thanks to Bush's crime. Compared to Bush, Martha Stewart was small potatoes. The SEC never went after Bush on this crime. Even after many people protested to the SEC. Bush's father was president at the time of the insider trading and somehow he evaded prosecution.......somehow????? Later when George W. became president, it was hands off all wall street crime and a free ride for the SEC. It is a no-brainer as to who winked and looked the other way on many of the Wall Street abuses. Bush, by the way, has never filed the proper paperwork on that i9nsider trade. Anyone who wishes to research bush's harkin oil stock sale can easily find it on the internet.
Comment: #9
Posted by: robert lipka
Thu Oct 1, 2009 7:22 AM
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