Progressive Revival

(cross-posted on


Talk about politics making strange bedfellows.  Who would have thought that liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans would join forces to defeat one of the strongest legislative pushes I’ve seen in recent years, one backed by the President, House and Senate leaders from both parties, and both Presidential candidates?


I haven’t delved into the policy details closely enough (nor am I enough of an economic expert) to offer an opinion on whether the bailout package would have worked or how desperately it is needed.  Clearly, we’re facing some serious issues as our banks begin to seize up…but on the other hand, all the economic “experts” who are saying the financial sky is falling are the same people who confidently proclaimed a month ago that everything was fine and we wouldn’t need to bail out these banks.  The truth is, I really don’t know what to believe any more…and that is possibly most depressing of all.


So although I may not feel comfortable offering an opinion on whether the financial sky is falling, what I do know is that I’m standing by my original critique about this whole mess.  Perhaps we can take solace (or maybe get even more depressed) by the fact that this has all happened before.  If only we had leaders with the same backbone they had 175 years ago?!  Here’s what President Andrew Jackson said to a delegation of bankers in 1832:

Gentlemen, I have had men watching you for a long time, and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the bank. You tell me that if I take the deposits from the bank and annul its charter, I shall ruin ten thousand families. That may be true, gentlemen, but that is your sin! Should I let you go on, you will ruin fifty thousand families, and that would be my sin! You are a den of vipers and thieves. I intend to rout you out, and by the eternal God, I will rout you out.

The financial meltdown and our response to it are exposing something broken about our priorities as a nation.  Why are struggling banks a “crisis” requiring an immediate and overwhelming response but children dying of preventable disease in this country and around the world and members of our Greatest Generation having to choose between food and the medication their spouse needs to survive are not?


Can and should we spend hundreds of billions on every problem we face?  Absolutely not.  But there is something wrong when we spend those hundreds of billions on an ill-conceived war and on bailing out bankers and then cry “fiscal responsibility” when it comes to the least and last.  And we need to be talking about that.


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