With a majority of Democrats in favor of it and a majority of Republicans against it, the financial bailout plan negotiated over the weekend failed in the House.
Not being an economist, I can’t say that the plan was good or bad, but the consensus of smart people I’m reading seems to be that it was good enough. Allowing it to fail was foolish not just because it created the largest drop in the Dow ? bigger than that following the 9/11 attacks ? but because the best excuse the Republicans could come up with for voting against it was that Nancy Pelosi hurt their feelings. There are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about this or any bill giving away billions of dollars to the same people who screwed things up in the first place, but Republicans cited none of that.
In any event, this is a catastrophic setback for John McCain. Last week, he stupidly inserted himself into the process. First he made a lot of noise about suspending his campaign to fly back to DC. Then he sat largely silent in meetings, speaking up only once, and that was to give tepid endorsement to a splinter plan from conservative House Republicans which would’ve left taxpayers holding the bag if the financial system collapsed, but which offered no upside to taxpayers if the bailout succeeded. Republican leadership had been working hard to get their conservative members to shelve that idea, but McCain’s endorsement sent everyone back to the barricades, and laid the groundwork for today’s fractured vote.
Meanwhile, McCain spent the time before the House vote claiming credit for the imminent victory. At a rally in Ohio, he declared “it?s not my style to simply phone it in.” On Sunday, Lindsay Graham struck the same note, telling Fox News Sunday that “John didn?t phone this one in. ? You can?t phone something like this in. Thank God John came back.”
Alas, well-documented accounts of McCain’s travels over the tail-end of last week found that he in fact did his work on the bailout by phone. On Saturday, he “could be seen in his car talking on his cell phone.” Later, a spokesman “told reporters that Mr. McCain would not go to Capitol Hill on Saturday but would make phone calls to try to push the deal along.” Asked why McCain didn’t meet negotiating members of Congress in person, the spokesman insisted “he can effectively do what he needs to do by phone.”
McCain has huddled away from the press since the vote. This is simply not the man I want running my country.