Pretty damned bad

My first reading, based on WaPo reporting.

A little bit of good news:

* Some sort of warrant mechanism to try to prevent a pure giveaway.

* Some sort of relief for homeowners who are under water on their mortgages.

That’s about it. Nothing even vaguely New-Dealish. On the downside:

* No real oversight. The overseers have a watching brief, not approval authority. The money is automatic, with the second slice on the Treasury Secretary’s mere say-so and the third slice subject only to a vetoable Congressional resolution of disapproval. Better than the original Paulson govern-by-decree nonsense, but pretty far short of checks and balances.

* No real limits on compensation. There are “limits,” sure, but they’re “enforced” through the tax code. Feh.

* No Wall Street tax. If the thing is losing money five years from now, the President must propose something-or-other for the Republicans in Congress to block. Don’t make me laugh.

And yes, the House Republicans’ “insurance” figleaf, which even the Wall Street Journal editors admit is a loser, is still in there. [Savor that: the WSJ announces that the single element for which John McCain was willing to torpedo the deal on Friday is a loser. And yet they still want this clown to be President. No accounting for taste.]

Worse, Newt Gingrich has decided to demagogue this one to the hilt. Gingrich seems to have been part of the problem from the beginning. Look for a post-deal double-cross by McCain and the wingnuts. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the double-cross actually happen on the House floor, with half the Republicans voting no and leaving the Democrats holding the bag.

That’s the problem with being the grown-up party.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com