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National Review Online


Blame Goldberg

February 11, 2010

By Nicole Gelinas

More seriously, Rep. Paul Ryan’s justification for his pro-TARP vote would be perfectly reasonable — if the GOP wasn’t content to leave it at that.

To recap, Ryan said that “I’m a limited-government, free-enterprise guy, but TARP . . . represented a moment where we had no good options and we were about to fall into a deflationary spiral. . . . There would have been no support for the free-market system.”

Then-President George W. Bush expressed a similar sentiment (as quoted in my book!). In November 2008, at Federal Hall in New York City, Bush said that “we are faced with the prospect of a global meltdown. And so we’ve responded with bold measures. I’m a market-oriented guy, but not when I’m faced with the prospect of a global meltdown.”

Okay, fine. But the GOP seems to think that’s the end of it. TARP was a mysterious beast that descended on Washington and demanded temporary surrender of free-market principles. But TARP’s over, the banks paid it back, the party has got its principles back none the worse for wear, and maybe they shouldn’t speak of the whole strange, unpleasant incident again.

Without adequate financial regulation, though, the next crisis is inevitable — and worse. In the Daily Beast article to which Jonah refers, Ryan focused on entitlement reform — really important, of course.

But financial firms enjoy a particular multi-trillion-dollar entitlement, too — entitlement to future bailouts. Finance competes, then, with an unfair advantage that other industries don’t enjoy — the expectation of government guarantees. This distorts and weakens the entire economy.

So where is the GOP, publicly, on this issue? In committee, the Senate Banking members (Shelby, Corker, Johanns, and others), to their immense credit, have taken the issue seriously, asking good questions last week about the proposed Volcker Rule, for example.

But in campaign style, Republicans and conservatives barely say a word about how important it is to fix finance so that it doesn’t remain immune to free-market discipline.

Ryan’s Roadmap for America’s Future mentions financial regulation only to shoot down the Democrats’ proposal — not to say what must be done instead. The GOP has ceded the issue, rhetorically, to the Democrats.

It’s as the historic economic crisis — one to which the president has responded poorly, to be sure — came from nowhere.

Original Source:



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