The stock market had its worst trading day since September 11, 2001 the other day. Besides making a neat bookend for the disastrous presidency of George W. Bush, the event further demonstrated how radically out of touch with reality (and how egregiously unfit for the presidency) John McCain is. After the announcement early Monday morning that Lehman Brothers had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and that Merrill Lynch had agreed to a buyout offer from Bank of America, and with the Dow Jones Industrial Average already plunging, a bumbling Senator McCain told a paltry crowd of lukewarm supporters that "the fundamentals of our economy are still sound." At the end of that trading day, the Dow had fallen to 10,917. It had closed the previous session at 11,421--or a drop of 504 points in a single day.
Yesterday, in a frantic effort to correct that gaffe, McCain finally admitted that we were in something of an economic crisis, but that he was the man to fix it. This provoked almost as much laughter, among everyone not a member of the Republican Party (and at least some of the smarter Republicans as well), as his ludicrous assertion that he'd been responsible for the invention of the Blackberry. Never mind that the policies that landed us in the frying pan out of which we've just been dumped into the fire are exactly the same policies that John McCain has supported for his entire political life. Never mind that they're the same policies that Phil Gramm, McCain's former Senate crony and current economic adviser, has written into McCain's campaign plan. Never mind that the arch-liberal and quasi-socialist former chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan said that McCain's policies are dangerous, and that one of McCain's major surrogates on economic policy, Carly Fiorina, herself famous for not knowing how to run a Fortune 500 company, said that neither McCain nor his running mate had what it took to run a Fortune 500 company--for which the McCain campaign has now graciously made Ms. Fiorina disappear, at least as far as being a surrogate for the McCain campaign is concerned.
Nevertheless, McCain made the round of the morning talk shows on Tuesday and bragged:
The point is, I was chairman of the commerce committee. Every part of America's economy, I oversighted. I have a long record, certainly far more extensive of being involved in our economy than Senator Obama does.
After a brief and relatively minor uptick yesterday, the Dow took another plunge today, closing at 10,609. That's a 400-point drop from today's open, or another 300 point drop since Monday's disastrous close, and 800 points below where it closed last Friday.
So which is it, John? Are we just a nation of whiners and crybabies who should shut up and let Very Serious People like yourself continue to screw us out of retirement plans, mortgages, and college tuition for our children? Or are we really and truly in an economic crisis that is the natural and inevitable result of the very economic policies you and your party have supported for the last generation? Inquiring minds want to know. You might also want to consider not bragging quite so much about how much responsibility you have for "every part of America's economy." At least as long as your goal is to get more votes than your opponent this November.
And while we're on the subject of the economy and how badly it's doing, perhaps you could answer another puzzler for me. Back in the fall of 2007, when The Boy Who Won't Be King Much Longer (Thanks Be to God!) vetoed the proposed expansion of the federal SCHIP program that provides health insurance to poor children, it was because he thought $60 billion over five years was too much money and would represent the "federalization" of healthcare. So why is it, do you suppose, that ponying up $85 billion that we don't actually have in the Treasury when it's to be used to prevent a large (but not overly large) corporation from succumbing to its own ineptitude, is magically a good idea? Or, to put it more succinctly, why is it that Republicans absolutely hate welfare--except when it's being paid out to corporate executives who, not coincidentally, give substantial sums of money to Republican candidates? How is this not a "federalization" of Wall Street? When did the Republicans decide to embrace socialism?
They're still the party, after all, that thinks "the market" will inevitably solve all of humanity's problems. How's that looking now, guys? Not so good, eh? But that still begs the question of why, if the "invisible hand" is so all-fired important, the federal government has just handed out nearly $300 billion that, again, we don't actually have on hand in the Treasury, to bail out Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG? Shouldn't they have been forced to undergo the usual marketplace penalty for making incredibly, egregiously bad decisions about investments--namely, going under or being broken up or sold?
Because from where I sit, it makes far more sense for the government to spend its money on a social safety net that takes care of working families and their needs, than it does to guarantee the pensions and the 401(k)s of corporate executives. The Republicans make a great to-do of running around the country and telling people who actually have to work for a living that they shouldn't count on the government to give them a break--they have to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. So why isn't that the same advice they give out to their corporate masters when their own greed and unwillingness to do even the bare minimum that the law--promoted and supported by people like Phil Gramm and John McCain and George W. Bush, by the by--required? Sauce for the working-class goose is--or ought to be--most definitely sauce for the corporate executive gander.
Voting for John McCain is tantamount to economic suicide. Surely we can all agree that after eight disastrous years of the failed economic policies of the Republican Party, we really can't afford extending that run for another four years.
And on that note, let me return to the image of the Bush bookends that I alluded to at the start of this post. On January 22, 2001, the first trading day after George W. Bush took office, the Dow Jones Industrial Average opened at 10,659. At the closing bell today, it was 50 points lower than it was at the start of Bush's disastrous presidency. For what it's worth, when Bill Clinton took office in January 1993, the DJIA stood at 3,253. When he left office eight years later and the present band of bungling baboons took over, it was at 10,587. In other words, we prospered under eight years of a Democratic administration that actually submitted a federal budget in balance for the first time in a generation. Since then, we've essentially been treading water, while the party that likes to paint itself--falsely, these days--as being foursquare for fiscal conservatism has spent more money than every drunken sailor in every liberty port in the history of the human race put together. Our economy is in a shambles, and we're liquid largely on the sufferance of the Chinese, who own most of our public debt. And it's mostly the fault of George W. Bush and his best friend forever, John McCain.
You should think about that when you step into the voting booth in a couple of months.