Friday, November 14, 2008


Did you catch President Bush's self-serving speech yesterday to the conservative Manhattan Institute at the Federal Building on Broad and Wall? Dan Eggen reports the speech for today's The Washington Post:

"The president's remarks clearly sought to influence a debate that appears headed in a direction Bush and his aides do not favor, just two months before he leaves office. Many of the world's most influential world leaders, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Brazilian President Luiz InĂ¡cio Lula da Silva, have advocated bold reforms including, to use a Sarkozy example, restrictions on executive pay.

"The speech came as the Bush administration still struggles to implement the faltering federal bailout package, while fending off calls from President-elect Barack Obama and other Democrats for additional stimulus measures. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. acknowledged Wednesday that the administration had abandoned its initial plan to buy distressed mortgage securities, focusing instead on offering aid to banks and other lenders to shore up credit markets."

Bush claims that the current financial melt-down stems not from the lax regulatory policy of his administration but has been building for decades, thus trying to cast the blame on Clinton and former administrations, including that of his father. Bush is so transparent. He wants so much to deflect blame and cast himself as the great leader capable of no wrong.

Bush claims that American capitalism can solve its own problems, thereby cutting off Sarkozy and Merkel's proposals for stricter financial markets regulation. What he is saying is that he refuses to help those homeowners who are now or in the immediate future risking foreclosure of their homes and mortgages. But he conveniently omits the 700 billion plus bail-out of the large Wall Street banks. So here is Bush's policy - help the banks and insurance companies who cannot meet their obligations but damn the poor sucker who cannot pay his or her mortgage.

Reports Eggen:

"Bush also argued that "the crisis was not a failure of the free market system" and that leaders should "not try to reinvent that system." Rather, he said, global leaders need to "fix the problems we face, make the reforms we need, and move forward with the free-market principles that have delivered prosperity and hope to people around the world."

""If you seek economic growth, if you seek opportunity, if you seek social justice and human dignity, the free market system is the way to go," Bush said to another burst of applause. "And it would be a terrible mistake to allow a few months of crisis to undermine 60 years of success."

"But Grant Aldonas, a former senior trade official in the Bush administration now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the tenor of the speech suggests Bush "does not understand his moment." He also said the administration has lost authority to argue against government intervention in the markets.

""The disabling of capitalism has already begun and he's the one who started it," Aldonas said. "It rings hollow for an awful lot of people, not only in the marketplace but for world leaders abroad. . . . They are the ones who are going to have the leverage at the table.""

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