The Bailout Diaries

By Kit-Bacon Gressitt


Sat 20 Sep 08 Dear Diary: President Bush announced we’re in the middle of a huge financial crisis and he has a bailout plan that needs Congressional action pronto! Too bad they didn’t do something sooner — might have prevented the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac takeover, the messes at Merrill Lynch, Bear Stearns and Countrywide, the lifesaving $85 billion loan to American International Group. Who are these folks, anyway? The only thing I know about AIG it runs ads with weirdly articulate children, so it just frosts my derriere that we’re giving so much money to perfect strangers.

And now Bush wants us to spend $700 billion to buy bad-mortgage-backed securities to improve the liquidity of the secondary mortgage markets and restore confidence in credit markets and Mom’s apple pie. I read that somewhere, and I kind of know what these thingies are, sort of. OK, I know what apple pie is.

The plan is supposed to save Wall Street financial institutions and Main Street folks. OK, that’s $700 billion to save us all from the greedy mess Wall Street made of the freewheeling subprime mortgage binge served up with consumer naiveté. I know I don’t get it, but it sounds as though we’re refunding big Wall Street types money they lost on little folks. Funny, Wall Street usually kicks our derrieres sans subsidy. Now we’re being asked to provide the wads of cash with which to spank us?

So what does this lousy plan mean to me and mine, anyway? No one can tell me, not even Treasury Secretary Paulson or Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke. I wonder if our 401K and money market accounts are OK?

Tue 23 Sep 08 Dear Diary: Capitol Hill folks have been working on legislation to implement the administration’s barely three-page, $700 billion plan, and they’re still at it. I read the plan and it looks sketchy. John McCain wouldn’t comment on it today, saying, "I have not had a chance to see it in writing.” I had a chance; a lot of people I know had a chance; why didn’t the Republican presidential nominee have a chance? Maybe this situation isn’t such a crisis?

Whatever! I still don’t get what it means to me and mine.

Wed 24 Sep 08 Dear Diary: Oops, guess it is indeed a crisis! McCain said he’s suspending his campaign and heading to D.C. to solve it. Yikes!

So now I really want to know what this means to me and mine. Halloo? Anyone?

Hey, McCain also wants to postpone Friday’s presidential debate until we have a solution on track. I wonder how he would do managing two wars at once, say, in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the downward spiral of our public schools. And the war on drugs and the energy crisis and Social Security funding and global warming. And, well, can we afford a president who appears disinclined to delegate and can handle only one issue at a time?

Wowy, this is scary!

And then there’s President Bush’s pitch speech for the bailout bill! He might as well have declared the financial crisis is hiding weapons of mass destruction. Got wolf?

But maybe we should be scared. Will life as we know it come to an end if the bill doesn’t pass? Or at least will my credit union fail? McCain should go ahead with the debate so he can explain the financial crisis and the solution he’s going to work on during his campaign-free time.

Thu 25 Sep 08 Dear Diary: Oops, I guess I don’t understood. Apparently suspension of the McCain campaign means something other than suspension of the campaign, as the campaign is continuing to, well, campaign — with ads and interviews and attacks on the opposition.

This is as confusing as the financial crisis! OK, not really, but it felt good to write that.

Fri 26 Sep 08 Dear Diary: Just watched the first presidential debate. Yep, McCain showed. Guess they didn’t need him in D.C. after all. No one lost. No one won. Kind of boring.

Weird, though, McCain wouldn’t look at Barack Obama. Weird and rude. Weird, rude and it made him look scared of Obama. And his repeated “What Obama doesn’t understand” line, jeez! I suppose McCain gets points for staying on point but what is the point? Just to let us know he can stay on point? Yep, boring.

Sat 27 Sep 08 Dear Diary: I wonder where McCain is today? Maybe he’s hopped that campaign train that never even slowed down. He said he's not one to rely on the phone. So, if he’s not on the Hill convincing all the House Reps to vote yes, who’s he going to blame if the bill doesn’t pass?

Sun 28 Sep 08 Dear Diary: My writers group was here tonight. We had the usual campaign update over dinner. Steve said the administration’s bailout plan was the closest thing to communism this country has ever seen. My poor honey; I guess most Marines still miss the Cold War. Wouldn’t it be cool if we didn’t cancel out each other’s vote this year?!?!

Supposedly, the bailout bill is a done deal: It goes to a vote tomorrow.

So what the hell does this mean to me and mine? I can’t believe there’s STILL no one who can answer that. If the bill doesn’t pass, is my kid’s education fund going to dwindle to a semester of Origami at the local community college? Will our 401K statements become kindling for the palm fronds we’ll be burning to heat the house? Will we have to work until our desiccated flesh is fertilizing the tree that’s turned into someone else’s timecards?!

Rep. Paul Ryan's reported comment is right: “This sucks.” I have to sell a manuscript. Or maybe an heirloom would be better.

Mon 29 Sep 08 Dear Diary: The Big Rescue — that didn’t happen: The House didn’t pass the bailout bill. Should I be relieved or terrified or both?

Rep. Paul Broun called the plan "a huge cow patty with a marshmallow in the middle of it”; Rep. John Boehner, a “crap sandwich.” Neither description is any more appetizing than the plan itself. I think.

But now I need to know what the failure of the bill means to me and mine. My credit union said not to worry, but I sensed an implied “little girl” at the end of that directive. And McCain is blaming Democrats’ “partisan speech” for the bill’s failure. He must have forgotten Ryan, Broun and Boehner are from his side of the aisle. It might be more accurate to blame the 133 Reps who voted against the bill — and thank the 140 Dems who voted for it.

Well, at least it turns out McCain can do two things at once: He kept his campaign going and he went to D.C. … but maybe he should stick with uni-tasking, because what McCain doesn’t understand is that his grandstanding didn’t work.

And what I’m beginning to understand, is those at the helm don’t understand what to do any more than the rest of us.

Wed 01 Oct 08 Dear Diary: Guess what? The folks in D.C. ditched the bailout plan, because not enough normal folks could get behind bailing out Wall Street, and they’ve replaced it with a rescue plan. This is so much better! Yippee-i-aye!

Fri 03 Oct 08 Dear Diary: The House passed the bailout plan cum rescue plan bill. So, like, when are our 401Ks going to recover?

Love, K-B 


©2008 Kit-Bacon Gressitt