Sunday, March 22, 2009

Obama's Biggest Bet and Ours

We are back in the casino now, ready to play a hand that could make us whole again or leave us broke for a long time to come.

After huge bets on bailouts and stimulus plans, we are about to go all in with $1 trillion to buy bad loans and toxic assets from ailing banks in partnership with private investors.

As Obama pushes our chips into that pot, there is a sinking feeling that the game may be rigged for the Wall Street players around the table who have been hoarding theirs, waiting for a time when the odds are with them.

It's unnerving that the President's chief advisers, Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, have been house men so long that their vision of the game may be inadequate to the needs of a nation that is gambling real money--rent money and what could put food on millions of family tables--on the outcome.

The Public Investment Corporation to be announced tomorrow sounds like a rehash of ideas that have been floating around for months and been picked apart by economists and knowledgeable financial operators. It has the look and feel of another Wall Street heads-I-win, tails-I-break-even proposition.

Before taking the plunge, we should hear the case for temporary and/or partial nationalization of the banks that has been pushed aside for political reasons, which amounts to leaving our fate in the hands of the Congressional clowns who have been showing us who they are in the past week.

As we try to clear our heads of AIG bonus madness and other distractions, let's take the time to get this one right. We have been betting everything on Obama's judgement. There is too much at stake to make the wrong call.

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