Friday, September 26, 2008

A House Divided

Ideological Impasse: Conservative House Republicans are imposing their ideological dogmas to kill the government's plan to rescue the financial markets. With the blessing of Republican Minority Leader John Boehner, House conservatives are proposing an alternative plan in which private investors would receive tax cuts while paying the Treasury to insure loans to purchase the toxic mortgages that have caused the credit freeze. Democrats earlier had won concessions from Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for more oversight, taxpayer protection, help to homeowners from mortgage foreclosure, capping executive bailout golden parachutes and phasing in of $700 billion to purchase the securities considered worthless by banks. Both plans would sell the mortgages when the housing market stabilized with the hope they could turn profits for the holders whether private or government held. Both plans are designed to thaw the credit freeze and encourage banks to resume lending to businesses and consumers who are the linchpins of growing the economy. There is no guarantee either plan would work although both sides agree fast action is required. At the heart of the House Republican conservatives' approach is a disdain for government essentially nationalizing segments of the financial markets and spreading socialistic policies similar to what France undertook in the 1970s. Their fortitude is backed by a growing Main Street backlash to the Paulson Plan by irate taxpayers.
Political Spin: Republican presidential candidate John McCain suspended his campaign and returned to Washington Thursday with aspirations to broker a deal providing his leadership and country-first ideals. Why it took him six days in a week in which he contradicted himself daily is open to conjecture. Once he entered the stage, Republican leadership gave him a cool reception and the Democrats tried to render him irrelevant. Democratic chief financial negotiators Rep. Barney Frank and Sen. Chris Dodd along with Republican Sen. Bob Bennett announced a tentative agreement with Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. McCain's presence provided cover for the rebelling House conservatives although he sidestepped endorsing either plan publicly. Suddenly, it was clear the Paulson compromise would not pass a House vote and the Republicans would kill their own party administration's rescue efforts. Politically, McCain locked himself in a box. He could oppose his president and support the conservative base of his party or he could approve the Paulson compromise with his own adjustments and face the wrath of his hard core constituency. No deal becomes McCain's executioner. So could a deal in which he was on the losing side. Even if he succeeds in brokering a deal, the outcome unravelling in the markets would not be clear until well after the Nov. 4 election. McCain's POW wounds might prevent him from raising his arms high enough to comb his hair, but he certainly is facile enough to throw the mother of all hail Marys.

Go Beavs: I sat there not believing what I was seeing. Oregon State was systematically demolishing No. 1 ranked USC with a 5-foot-9 freshman running back who darted, squirmed and wiggled his way through the best defense in college football. Jacquizz Rodgers accomplished in one night what David did to the Philistines by slaying Goliath. I commented previously that the only team to beat USC this season was themselves. True enough, penalties, a key fumble turnover and two interceptions contributed to the Trojans loss. But that in no way shortchanges the Beavers for controlling both sides of the line of scrimmage, outplaying and outcoaching the vaunted USC team with the best, deepest and most athletic talent in the NCAA. Rodgers in 26 carries ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns. Hindsight is 20-20 but this upset was always a possibility. Call it a resurrection of ghosts past. In 1967, Oregon State defeated an O.J. Simpson national championship team 3-0 in the Corvallis mud. Two years ago the Beavers knocked off USC at home depriving the Trojans a chance to play in the BCS championship game. In Oregon, fans cling to these rare instances of stardom for national championships in football are beyond reality even they acknowledge. I know. I lived in Oregon for 12 years and suffered the ups and downs of Beaver fortunes as well as their arch rival down state Oregon Ducks. Meanwhile, even if USC runs the table against Pac10 opponents the remainder of the season, their prospects of playing in the BCS finals are slim to none. The top 10 ranked teams are dominated by schools in the toughest of all conferences, the South East Conference and the Midwest's Big 12.
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