Rival gangs can’t shoot straight

Increasingly national leaders raise the stakes in a Breslin-like competition to show the wacky wild ways in which their inept aim goes awry.

You remember Jimmy Breslin, the working class journalist who wrote novels such as The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight. That bizarre tale of hubris and humor later became a movie.

You remember our leaders, those imitation working class politicos who shoot off their mouths—mostly in ways that prove less than straight with us. Their bizarre tale of hubris, sans humor, demonstrates an inability to hit their targets (like jobless predictions).

To them I say, “It’s our well-being we care about, stupid, not the election that you care about so much.” But we get reruns of bad schtick every couple of years as election season looms.

Rewind tape two years. As the economy became the equivalent of a home targeted by arsonists, the Bush administration and Congress decided to throw a TARP over the FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate). Suffocate the blaze, said policy makers. But we still got burned as our financial house went up in smoke.

Let’s recall that TARP (the Troubled Asset Relief Program), which passed Congress with support from both parties a month before the 2008 election, provided $250 billion for the Bush administration to act immediately. But it left oversight of $700 billion to the incoming administration (adios Treasurer Hank Paulson, hola Tim Geithner).

This doesn’t even include the billions in quantitative easing (money printing) by Federal Reserve monetary policy makers, but that’s a different hole-in-the-head gang.

Obama administration Democrats, the new political gang now in the saddle, expanded TARP to cover failing automakers. It also rammed through a large fiscal stimulus of sorts through Congress, saying it would cap unemployment at 8 percent. Joblessness topped 10 percent at one point, and it’s still 9.5 percent.

This year, we got continuing extensions of unemployment insurance benefits (tacked onto our indebtedness; pay as you go is long gone), along with financial regulation reform that wasn’t, plus the latest fight over help for small business—help that was supposed have come from TARP.

The hundreds of billions for TARP and the original stimulus plan in 2008-09 make dwarfs of this year’s $30 billion each for unemployment and small business help, but Congress understands voters are more than restless going into the mid-term election.

There was a day when $30 billion was real money. That was the stimulus proposal President George H.W. Bush (Bush I, as pundits call Dubya’s dad) refused to consider during his own reelection year of 1992 against upstart Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton. We’ve been over-stimulated in various ways ever since.

The Obamania folks, led in the Senate by Nevada’s Harry Reid, will get the $30 billion small business lending and aid package now or later (but prior to Election Day). They’ll get some Republicans to go along because much of this summer’s GOP foot-dragging amounted to theater for the right-wing base.

Small business creates most jobs, so help is needed. But we should be paying the freight, not passing the cost along to future generations. This plan, like many others, will prove another link in the chain fencing us into national indebtedness and making our nation a shadow of its former financially sound self.

The Democrat and Republican gangs can’t shoot straight with us or with our grandchildren, nor is their aim accurate regarding economic recovery.