Debra J. Saunders

"To some extent, this is a power-play by the Senate," Ellis noted, with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid tossing in goodies -- even to those who didn't have a hand out.

Or as the National Taxpayers Union's Pete Sepp put it, the bailout package "wasn't a Christmas tree" -- weighted with gifts for politicians' districts -- "so much as it was a garbage truck" -- laden with discarded junk.

Very expensive junk.

UC Berkeley political science professor Bruce Cain believes the Senate did a better job of working across party lines than Pelosi's House. But also, Cain wonders if the big mistake were in bringing the bailout to a vote in the House before the public was ready to support it.

"You can't just expect Congress to be out ahead of public opinion in the modern era," he said.

Perhaps Cain is right. The House bill failed when polls showed public opinion dead set against it. The Senate passed the bill after fear-fueled public sentiment had shifted. The House followed.

Of course, it cost another $110 billion to pass the bill. It always does now. Washington is the town that subtraction forgot.

Debra J. Saunders

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