Beware the Unintended Consequences

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Sep 29, 2008 7:06 PM
I would love to be wrong on this one, and to have the chance ultimately to congratulate the conservatives who opposed this bill as people who successfully protected the country from an unnecessary and undesirable government intrusion into the economy.  But I fear I'm not going to have that chance.

As Hugh has noted below, Michael Moore denounced this bill and called for it to be defeated.  Note well that the House's most left-wing Democrats (and few of them reknowned for their knowledge of the economic system) including Dennis Kucinich, Sheila Jackson-Lee and the Sanchez sisters also opposed the bill. 

Why would they do this?  Because they figure they've got two "good" (in their world) scenarios to hope for.  One, the Democrats will put forward a loony left bill, pass it on a party line vote, and take credit for saving the economy in time for the elections.  Or, nothing passes, the markets tank, many people are hurt and -- voila! -- as in the era of FDR, an unprecedented expansion of the federal government's powers results from the economic dislocation.

The Republicans who opposed the bill, on the other hand, can hardly hope that a more conservative version is going to garner enough Democrat votes to pass.  So, to give them the benefit of the doubt (because who, on the right, hopes for another Great Depression?), they must be figuring that doing nothing will turn out OK.  That's where I think they've taken a big, risky gamble with this country's economic future.  Given market and economic realities -- like the 770 point drop today -- it's not likely that the economy's going to pick right up on its own.

Perhaps they hope that Congress is going to pass a loony left bill and get thrown out on the heels of it.  Well, maybe so, but it's always risky to assume that if things get really, really bad, people will understand the glories of free market conservatism.  More often, they great frightened and demand more government protection, and the concept of capitalism takes it on the chin . . . just what Moore and his gang of leftists are hoping for. 

In the meantime, scads of seniors lose their life's savings.  And as those on both sides who opposed the bill take all the time they want to "get it right," the damage continues unabated.  That's not a scenario that helps Republicans, the markets, or free market capitalism.

Beware the unintended consequences.