I was quite concerned a few days ago about what I suspected were fake tranches in the bailout bill: even though theoretically Congress could block the second $350 billion of the bill via a joint resolution, I argued that the Republicans would filibuster it if they thought that that could straitjacket an Obama Administration’s budget plans.
Despite all the dreadful things in the bailout, and the fact that the Democrats have once again caved on the bankruptcy provisions, my fears have been assuaged at least on this front, for two reasons:
First, Section 115(e) of the bill provides for fast-track consideration in the Senate of any joint resolution of disapproval, limiting debate to 10 hours, and thus preventing a filibuster.
Second, Larry Summers argues in the Washington Post today that the bill will most likely not cost $700 billion, and that the government could recoup a good chunk of the money–if (and it is a very big if) it is managed properly. But it doesn’t necessarily blow a hole in the budget, and we don’t have to give up, say, the Obama health care package. Brad DeLong agrees.
That’s not a whole lot, but given what could have been, I’ll take it.