No Alternative

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"No Alternative"

Back from Rosh Hashanah services, one striking thing about the rejection of the bailout is that the deal’s conservative opponents don’t seem to have any real alternative in mind. By contrast, the deal’s critics on the left mostly have a pretty clear critique — the want more equity, tighter controls on CEO pay, more mortgage modifications, and more direct economic stimulus. In fact, they mostly want the same things that the deal’s supporters on the left want — they’re just making a different judgment call about the relative weight of various factors, the contours of feasibility, etc.

But the deal’s critics on the right have . . . an irrelevant capital gains tax cut? And perhaps a plan to suspend “mark-to-market” accounting so as to allow financial institutions to recapitalize themselves through handwaving and cooking the books. I’m fully in sympathy with people who have their doubts about the desirability of the bill that was brought to the floor today, but surely one has a responsibility to lay out some alternative course of action. Even spelling out “we should do nothing, let large banks fail, assume money will flow elsewhere, etc.” could qualify you to participate in the conversation. But just bleating vaguely about socialism and saying mean ol’ Nancy hurt your feelings doesn’t really cut it.

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