Silver Lining in the Bailout Bill

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.

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.