Yesterday’s failed vote on the financial-industry “bailout” was a bitter harvest of years of hyperpartisan rancor, much of that the result of Republicans’ ideological extremism, overbearing tactics, demagoguery and refusal of accountability.
In a transparent act of feckless blame shifting, House Republicans charged Speaker Nancy Pelosi caused the bill’s defeat because her allegedly partisan and judgmental pre-vote speech offended them. (See our previous post, Pelosi’s truth hurt.)
Nobody bought their whopper and today Republicans dropped it like a hot potato. We take this as a long-overdue sign pundits and the public are recovering from whatever possessed them to accept so many GOP lies in recent years.
That said, we’re seeing plenty of indications people don’t understand the position Pelosi and House Democrats — 95 of whom voted against the bill — were in.
The housing bubble, all those bad mortgages and this entire debacle was caused by Republicans. The Bush administration decided self-regulation was all that was needed to keep the financial industry playing nice. Congressional Republicans supported this idiocy and refused to do oversight that might show otherwise.
Yesterday, Pelosi was no doubt torn between two strong desires: 1, Ensuring the economy doesn’t lapse into convulsions leading to paralysis; and 2, Reluctance right before an election to risk a political backlash if the plan didn’t work or people later decided it wasn’t necessary, whether or not it had worked.
If that was so, Pelosi could hardly be blamed. She and fellow House Democrats suffered for years under heavy-handed Republican rule. Their pleas for doing oversight fell on deaf Republican ears.
Under ex-Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., the Bush White House told House leaders what to do and not to do, and House Republicans marched in lockstep to those orders.
Any Republican member who got out of line invited trouble, from having pork-barrel goodies denied to his district, to being refused GOP campaign money, to having the party run someone against him in a primary.
So, the feeling among Pelosi and House Democrats yesterday was that if Republicans wanted a bailout, they should vote in substantial numbers to pass it, making the effort clearly bipartisan.
As the vote was held, Democrats saw many Republicans weren’t up for that. So, seeing no reason to stick their own necks out when Republicans wouldn’t, more and more Democrats voted against the bill as well. Thus, the defeat.
Today, House Democrats and Republicans are said to be working for a revised version of the bill, one that will attract the dozen or more additional votes needed to pass it.
House Democrats should explain their refusal to go out on a limb to benefit the Bush administration and Republican colleagues unwilling to do their own part.
House Republicans should put up or shut up.