It’s full steam ahead for the trillion-dollar-plus bailout boondoggle. Washington is euphoric.
If you didn’t already have a sick feeling in your stomach all week, the photos of the late-night press conference announcing that a tentative deal had been struck should make your innards churn:
As I’ve said throughout this past year of stimulus-palooza giveaways: God save us from bipartisanship.
Nothing is on paper yet. The ACORN funding provisions have reportedly been stripped. But God knows what Pelosi/Reid’s draft bill writers will slip into this behemoth before the day is over.
I’d refer you to a copy of the bill, but…there is none.
And there won’t be one for taxpayers to read and analyze for themselves before the bailout mob rushes to pass this unprecedented “rescue” of private industry on Monday. The Examiner has a side-by-side comparison of the broad terms of Paulson/Frank-Dodd/”Final Bill” plans.
Here’s what the WSJ reports:
Those present said the bailout plan still needs to be drafted in its final form, a process staff members were expected to continue throughout the night in what one aide called a “marathon drafting session” in Speaker Pelosi’s office just off the rotunda in the Capitol building. A formal announcement is scheduled for some time Sunday, though an exact time and location was not immediately available.
A summary of the tentative agreement released by Sen. Pelosi’s office said the plan “gives taxpayers an ownership stake and profit-making opportunities with participating companies; puts taxpayers first in line to recover assets if a participating company fails; (and) guarantees taxpayers are repaid in full — if other protections have not actually produced a profit.”
The $700 billion would be available in phases. The first $250 billion will be “immediately available” to the Treasury Secretary, and $100 billion available “upon report to Congress,” and $350 billion “available only upon Congressional action,” according to a summary from the office of House Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R., Mo.), the No. 2 House Republican who was at negotiations.
A summary from Sen. Pelosi’s office said the final deal included “cutting in half the administration’s initial request for $700 billion and requiring Congressional review for any future commitment of taxpayers’ funds.”
Translation: Kabuki theater will occur before the next rubber stamping. Bottom line: No matter how you slice it, Paulson gets his $700 billion and more.
Reminder that the bailout allows foreign banks to partake of American taxpayer funding — and that the bailout plan includes buying student loans, car loans, credit card debt and any other “troubled” assets held by banks.
Thanks to Pelosi, the bailout has expanded even further:
The Pelosi summary also said the legislation will expand the range of firms that can sell troubled assets to the government to include pension plans, local governments and community banks serving “low- and middle-income families.”
More goodies pushed by the Dems:
Other foreclosure-prevention measures include an extension of the tax holiday for homeowners who face foreclosure, as well as a tax break for community banks that held shares of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The rescue plan will allow affected banks to take an immediate tax deduction on losses from investments in the two firms, which were taken over by the federal government earlier this month.
Quoted in the NYTimes:
A senior administration official who participated in the talks said the deal was effectively done. “I know of no unresolved open issues for principals,” the official said.
“Principals” don’t include the people who will be paying for this beast.
How about this for an “unresolved open issue:”
Among the last sticking points was an unexpected and bitter fight over how to pay for any losses that taxpayers may experience after distressed debt has been purchased and resold.
Democrats had pushed for a fee on securities transactions, essentially a tax on financial firms, saying it was fitting that they contribute to the cost.
In the end, lawmakers and the administration opted to leave the decision to the next president, who must present a proposal to Congress to pay for any losses.
Translation: Kick the can.
Conservative stalwart Sen. Richard Shelby isn’t playing:
Some lawmakers have made clear that they will not vote for the bailout plan under virtually any terms. “I didn’t want to be in the negotiations because I object to the basic principles of this,” said Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the banking committee who would normally be his party’s point man.
Pressed about his role, Shelby replied, “My position is ‘No.’ “
For your wallet’s sake, and your children’s wallets’ sake, pray that Shelby is not alone.
Question: Who’s up for a filibuster?
Ed Morrissey publishes a “Myths vs. Facts” sheet from a House GOP source.
I’m waiting for the bill.
Tom Blumer at BizzyBlog smells blackmail.
Update 4:01pm Eastern…The 108-page draft bill is now available here thanks to N.Z. Bear and Porkbusters…reading now…
Update: The “fast-track” devil in the details.
Update: Most recent version of the bill here.