Congressional Missed Tackles Cost Taxpayers the Game

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke testified before a congressional committee today. Their performance was nothing short of dazzling; not since the days of Elroy “Crazy Legs” Hirsch has anyone seen such footwork.

Hirsch, you’ll recall, became renowned for his amazing style of running with the football. After one game, a sports writer reported: “His crazy legs were gyrating in six different directions, all at the same time; he looked like a demented duck.” That description might equally well be applied to the actions of a certain baldheaded secretary of the Treasury (aka Bailout Czar).

Said Czar begged the committee members today for understanding and compassion. “There is no playbook for responding to turmoil we have never faced. We adjusted our strategy to reflect the facts of a severe market crisis.” They certainly did, in a manner of speaking.

Our dedicated public servants in Congress have been watching the Czar like bird dogs, of course, and some of them expressed doubts today about the erratic flight pattern of the Treasury’s demented duck. “We all understand that when conditions on the ground change, policymakers must be agile enough to adjust to those changed circumstances,” said Alabama bird dog Spencer Bachus. “But changing too quickly, without adequately explaining why you’ve changed or what you’re going to do next, risks sending mixed signals to a marketplace that is in dire need of certainty and a sense of direction.” Arf, arf, arf (that’s bird dog for “amen, congressman”).

Pennslvania bird dog Paul Kanjorski also complained about the recent “180 degree change in policy,” and wondered aloud: “Do we have a plan?” Of course, “we” have a plan, sir. Here it is: “‘We’ plan to take trillions of dollars from the taxpayers, in one way or another, and hand it out to the banks, insurance companies, and other financial deadbeats because, well, congressman, they are just our kind of people and they’ve got themselves in a bit of a bind lately, and, gosh, if we don’t steal a shipload of money and pass it along to them, they might even be reduced to working for a living—you know, like the peasants we’re taking the money from—and that just wouldn’t be fair, because they’ve never had any experience with work, and, heck, they wouldn’t even know where to start.”

Crazy Legs Paulson then gave the committee an awesome hip fake, followed by an amazing limp leg and a incredibly sharp change of direction, promising that the Treasury is now looking into what AP reporter Jeannine Aversa describes as “new ways to boost the availability of auto loans, student loans and credit cards.”

Splendid. That’s just what the world needs right now: more loans to people with extremely iffy ability to repay those loans. We certainly can’t recall ever getting into any trouble in the past by indulging in that sort of reckless lending.

Remember: this administration wants no child (borrower) left behind! It’s not enough if credit card issuers, as in the past, simply offer credit to dogs. No, Mr. Secretary, we’ve got to do a lot better than that, because any stinting on the issuance of credit now runs the risk of plunging the entire world into a depression that will make the Great Depression of the 1930s look like a corporate Christmas party.

Robert Higgs is Retired Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, author or editor of over fourteen Independent books, and Founding Editor of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.
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