More Silver Linings

The Dow’s record drop today changes the political dynamics of the garbage pail bill quite a bit, it seems to me.

As several observers mentioned, you don’t get credit for taking an unpopular move that avoids a crisis. But given the collapse of the stock market, people will check their 401(k)s and see big losses. And suddenly, they will think that even if they don’t like the bill, maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all. So it could make it quite a bit harder for GOP challengers to run against Dems that voted for the thing. (“My opponent thinks it’s a great idea for the stock market to drop by 800 points!”).

Just as important, it gives the Democrats more room to push through their preferred options, if they can get more of their own to vote for it. So they should do what Mark suggests: Push on bankruptcy. Push on purchase of preferred shares. Push on affordable housing. Push on some sort of a transactions tax or surtax on the top 1/10 of 1%. If the Republicans reject these and say that they cannot provide the votes for it, the easy response is, “you couldn’t provide the votes on the last one, either!”

At this stage, the worse things get, the worse they get politically for the Republicans. I don’t like it because it could mean real pain for people, but it could also mean real pain for Republicans, and that’s at least something.

Author: Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff teaches Torts, Land Use, Environmental Law, Comparative Urban Planning Law, Legal History, and Public Policy Clinic - Land Use, the Environment and Local Government. He grew up and still lives in the San Fernando Valley, about which he remains immensely proud (to the mystification of his friends and colleagues). After graduating from Yale Law School, and while clerking for a federal appeals court judge in Boston, he decided to return to Los Angeles shortly after the January 1994 Northridge earthquake, reasoning that he would gladly risk tremors in order to avoid the average New England wind chill temperature of negative 55 degrees. Professor Zasloff has a keen interest in world politics; he holds a PhD in the history of American foreign policy from Harvard and an M.Phil. in International Relations from Cambridge University. Much of his recent work concerns the influence of lawyers and legalism in US external relations, and has published articles on these subjects in the New York University Law Review and the Yale Law Journal. More generally, his recent interests focus on the response of public institutions to social problems, and the role of ideology in framing policy responses. Professor Zasloff has long been active in state and local politics and policy. He recently co-authored an article discussing the relationship of Proposition 13 (California's landmark tax limitation initiative) and school finance reform, and served for several years as a senior policy advisor to the Speaker of California Assembly. His practice background reflects these interests: for two years, he represented welfare recipients attempting to obtain child care benefits and microbusinesses in low income areas. He then practiced for two more years at one of Los Angeles' leading public interest environmental and land use firms, challenging poorly planned development and working to expand the network of the city's urban park system. He currently serves as a member of the boards of the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (a state agency charged with purchasing and protecting open space), the Los Angeles Center for Law and Justice (the leading legal service firm for low-income clients in east Los Angeles), and Friends of Israel's Environment. Professor Zasloff's other major activity consists in explaining the Triangle Offense to his very patient wife, Kathy.