Paul Jacob

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.), author of the bill, is so unpopular in his own state that he chose not to stand for re-election. But he could muster an arrogant scoff at the argument that the legislation leaves too much of the new regulatory regime to be slapped together by regulators with little guidance from Congress. “It’s the dumbest argument I’ve ever heard,” he told reporters. “What do they expect me to write, a 100,000-page bill? This is far beyond the capacity, the expertise, the knowledge of a Congress . . .”

What do we expect? The most arrogant, wasteful, out-of-touch institution on the planet seems an unlikely candidate to “rein in” the financial industry. Or the oil industry. Or any special interest.

Not unless by “rein in” one means for the purpose shaking down more campaign contributions.

Meanwhile, after President Obama lectured financial firms on risky business practices, he darted off to Michigan to place a $2.4 billion bet (with our tax dollars) on developing batteries for electric cars. The new Bush-Obama American economic system makes the president the Investor-in-Chief.

But will the investment fetch a return? In the non-government world that’s sort of the point, after all.

Menahem Anderman, the founder and chief executive of Total Battery Consulting, admits, “Basically, there’s really no proven market. . . .” A spokesperson for Johnson Controls, Inc. , another big company in the business, thinks that by 2015 supply of batteries will outstrip demand by two-to-one.

Is the notion of supply and demand really too advanced for the big-spending Administration and Congress?

When it comes to politics, Democrats and Republicans are certainly more sophisticated. In 2006, the Democrats strategically decided to avoid presenting their own agenda for making government work better, so they could instead focus the voters’ attention on the poor performance of Republicans. Numerous scandals helped. Now debate rages among Republicans about doing the same to Democrats.

Let’s hope, instead, that Republicans do come forward with an agenda. Voters deserve a better choice than between nothing and something rotten.

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.