Why should we do this? Because otherwise there will be a financial panic, followed by a market collapse, wiping out pensions, 401Ks, portfolios and defined benefit plans of Middle America, forcing millions into bankruptcy and millions more to put off retirement and continue working until they drop.
In a democracy, it is said, you get the kind of government you deserve. But what did the American people do to deserve this? What did they do to deserve the quality of financial, corporate and political leadership that marched them into this mess -- and that today postures as their rescuers?
Consider what this mess has already cost taxpayers: $29 billion to buy the rotten paper of Bear Stearns so J.P. Morgan would buy the investment bank; $85 billion for 80 percent of AIG to nationalize it; $150 billion in a stimulus package to flood the nation with cash; perhaps $300 billion to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; and now $700 billion to begin taking the toxic paper off the hands of America's big banks.
And even if this is passed, say Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, there is no guarantee this will resolve the crisis. If the $700 billion is not provided and the toxic paper is not pulled off the books of the world's banks by U.S. taxpayers, however, we face an almost certain collapse, surging bankruptcies, rising unemployment, a shrinkage of GDP and a recession, if not worse.
Yet, the fellows who tell us we face a financial mushroom cloud over every American city if we do not act at once to provide the $700 billion did not see this coming and can make no guarantee that this will succeed and end the crisis.
Nevertheless, it must be done, and done now, as collapse is imminent.
Looking at all the money being ladled out by the U.S. government to prevent a collapse, and the diminished revenue coming in, it is hard to see how America avoids future deficits that reach $1 trillion a year. These will imperil both the dollar itself and the ability of the United States, which saves nothing, to borrow from the rest of the world. The downsizing of America is at hand.
Yes, indeed, we have arrived at the Day of Reckoning for Uncle Sam.