Solarbird (solarbird) wrote,

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pivoting on an axis

I'm watching this second video of Rick Santelli launching into Steve Liesman about the foreclosure programme I mentioned earlier. They're complaining about $75B, which is now a HUGE PROBLEM MORAL HAZARD BAILING OUT SCUMBAGS, vs. $2T thrown at the banking system, which was Good and Necessary. It's neat, listening him talk about "appropriate people." He calls himself a Ayn Randian, but in the same sentence, talks about giving taxpayer money to people who are more deserving. Both are entirely incompatible with actual Objectivism, of course, but one meets his moral approval - by being people he knows and thinks are like him - the other doesn't.

Mr. Santelli has launched a Chicago Tea Party website, by the way. And CNBC viewers answering this non-scientific poll are overwhelmingly on his side (218K respondents, 94% Yes, 4.8% No). It's big enough that White House Press Secretary Gibbs has responded to Mr. Santelli, who has in turn called the response "bullying" and "the worst administration attack on the media in our lifetime," which I find laughable.

By the way, MSN is playing this angle as well, talking about the outrage triggered by the housing plan. Note the same sorts of commentary from the people they quote. Rush Limbaugh - who I urge you to keep in mind has directly stated he wants Mr. Obama's presidency to fail, what happens to the country be damned - is also running with it, full bore. Please do tie this in to various memes pinning the entire problem on ACORN and poor people from last fall. This is connected.

Meanwhile, check this out: US$25B bailout recipient Chase's CEO refuses to tell CNBC how his bank is performing, and slams the mortgage/foreclosure bailout as moral hazard. Ah, the irony:
I don't think just because someone's underwater they say I don't have to stay there. But they're supposed to pay the mortgage, and we should teach the American people, you're supposed to meet your obligations, not run from them. Because you have a mortgage doesn't mean you should run away as it goes down.
For this guy, it really is all about punishing Those Bad People. Fiduciary responsibility doesn't even enter this guy's mind - and while I'm sure the systemic fraud that created this situation does, they'll be doing everything they can to keep that part of the story buried.

I don't usually have Sullivan links in economics posts, but I want to point to his discussion of the attempts to pin all of the Bush economic damage on Mr. Obama, here. Senators DeMint and Graham (both R-SC) were both on the floor of the Senate denouncing the stimulus plan as a bill that will destroy America. There's a lot of generalised anger and lots and lots of fear, as well. The mood is significantly unstable; people who haven't been talking about guns, canned food, and "taking back our country" are starting to talk about exactly that, in terms I don't like. This is exploitable, and is being exploited.

Accordingly, I'm seeing an attempted capture of this outrage by the Republican party. An outrage that was aimed generally at the banking system, systemic fraud, and massive looting - an operation supported essentially by both wings of the political class - is now being reoriented specifically by the GOP machinery, on the axis of the foreclosure plan, at anyone-in-the-so-called-left, and Mr. Obama in particular. (That the left is onboard with where the economic right has been for the last several months is, of course, irrelevant.) This wouldn't be so bad if the GOP hadn't spent the last decade or so describing everyone not on their side as traitors, publishing books declaring the not-GOP to be socialist-fascists-in-waiting, and so on. But they have, and I don't like where the rumblings are going. And they're seeing a shot here, and they're taking it, using all the same old tools, re-energised by the economic collapse they helped establish. I imagine they see it as both a lever back towards power, and as an opportunity to distract from all that aforementioned systemic fraud and looting by their friends.

I'll be over here hoping it doesn't work. For the moment, though, it seems to be. We'll see whether it sustains itself.
Tags: economics, politics
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