The 800 Billion Dollar Gorilla in the Debate

It’s too bad so much coverage of Presidential politics this election is being spent on personality and gamesmanship. One would think that there was nothing as important as whether Sarah was Sarah or Joe revealed his feminine side by coming close to tears. Meanwhile, the 800 billion dollar gorilla in the room was allowed to dominate his own kingdom. As the economy is the theme of daily broadcasts as to WHEN, not if, Congress will pass the bailout, the rest of us watch in astonishment that our future and our children’s future is treated in such a cavalier manner by the two parties.

It’s not just a matter of how much time was spent on the debate about the bailout, but also where the maverick was when it came to the bill? Where was the YES WE CAN candidate when it comes to the opposition to the bailout by the vast majority of American people? If people expected something of substance would be said about it in the Presidential debate there were surely disappointed.

The word both VP Candidates used was “oversight”. This is a term, like Main Street and Wall Street that has been abused in the recent bailout debate. Policy means enforcement which is more than oversight. It is a comprehensive restructuring of the economy that has already taken place. The income gap between rich and poor has widened; the public infrastructure (such as mass transportation, energy production, public health and education and resource management) has deteriorated; vast numbers of the American people have no health care and the inflated housing prices that were so popular to investment bankers closed any opportunity for millions to own homes. The distinction made was that we were told Obama would “fundamentally change the focus of economic policy” after voting YES for the bailout, while we were told that John McCain was “representing reform” while voting YES for the bailout.

After the first question neither candidate felt the need to explain their support for the bill so overwhelming opposed by the American people. Senator Biden raised it as a point against Senator McCain’s disconnection with the American people. This is an easy layup and required no finesse at all.

Both candidates claimed that, of course, their Presidential running mates were always for regulation. Of course they were the only ones who opposed “Wall Street corruption and greed”. Sarah Palin boasted: “Never will we be exploited and taken advantage of again by those who are managing our money and loaning us these dollars.” Senator Biden argued that: “Barack Obama warned about the sub prime mortgage crisis.” In the meantime, both voted YES to the bailout.

There’s a time for gamesmanship and a time for responsibility. It does appear as though gamesmanship still trumps responsibility for Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates of either major party though. The continued escalation of public panic to approve the bailout was never addressed by any of the candidates in either of the debates. The debate not heard was that of Rep. Brad Sherman (Dem., CA): ‘Wall Street and the administration are going all out to tell constituents, ‘Make your congressman vote for our bill, or your 401(k) [retirement plan] is toast.” THE HILL, September 22.

At issue is not the need to nominate Congressman Sherman for Vice-President, but the need to act responsibly in a matter that will impact on not only the next administration, but the next generation as well. It is past time for Congress and candidates for President and Vice-President to publicly state the impact of the bailout on future budgets, on present entitlement programs and the leeway the next administration will have in passing needed legislation for the poor and working people of America. The debate was not a debate at all regarding the substance of the future of America. It was another circus for the masses. As such, we can now live with the fact that the $800 billion gorilla will have its way with us.

Mato Ska

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