No Blank Check

Right now, the Bush administration is demanding a $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. That comes out to roughly $2,325 for every man, woman and child in America. And now they’re saying they want that money to be no-strings-attached–they’re telling us that this is ‘no time to be punitive.’

Forgive my language, but they can go to hell.

Someone has to pay for this. Well, figuratively—literally, the taxpayers are going to have to pay for it. But if the Republicans want my tax money to go to Wall Street, there better be some strings attached.

First, how about ending those golden parachutes? If you’re the head of Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac or AIG or any of those companies getting bailed out, you messed up. You made poor business decisions and you drove your company into the ground. You don’t deserve millions of dollars for doing a terrible job—especially not if the taxpayers are footing the bill. Do not pass go, do not get a giant severance package—though I’d suggest you take some of the money you’ve already earned and go back to business school.

Second, we need more regulation. Let’s put that “let the free market regulate itself” garbage to bed once and for all. This crisis comes at the tail end of 28 years of Republican-championed deregulation; our failing economy proves that sometimes business needs to be regulated, for the good of all of us.  So how about we rebuild some of that regulatory structure. If a huge chunk of my tax dollars are going to fix this mess, I want to make sure there are guidelines in place to make sure it never, ever happens again.

Third, how about doing something for Main Street? How ridiculous is it that you want us to throw nearly a trillion dollars at Wall Street, but the rest of us have to both foot the bill and fend for ourselves? Guess what, guys—that money you’re sending to those skyscrapers in lower Manhattan is going there instead of paying for health care or social security or a few other programs that would have benefited those of us who don’t have MBAs or fancy job titles.

And how about we make those big corporations and CEOs pay more in taxes—they made this mess, they should pay for as much of it as they can afford. In fact, let’s start with McCain adviser Carly Fiorina—you know, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard who got a $40 million golden parachute after driving the company into the ground and laying off thousands of workers. I’m sure she could afford to pay for a pretty big share of this mess.

Obama and the Dems seem to be willing to show some spine on this, so let’s go for it. If the Republicans are demanding our money to fix their mess, they better offer us something good in return.  Otherwise, we should let them sweat it out a bit while Wall Street crumbles, bit by bit.

No blank check. No way.

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