MULLING OVER COMPETING OPTIONS…. No one seems to have any idea what’s going to happen next with regards to congressional action on the Wall Street crisis, but ABC News reported last night on the competing approaches moving forward after yesterday’s debacle.
# 1 — Muscle Bailout Bill Through House: Some leaders suggest those House Republicans on the fence will be swayed by seeing what the markets do tomorrow, which could be more bad news. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped over 700 points today as the administration’s bailout bill failed in Congress This option would see House leaders try again to muscle through the votes they need to get the $700 billion bailout bill passed.
#2 — Pass Bailout in Senate First: Some Senate and House leaders have been talking about letting the Senate go first and pass the bailout package, ABC News has learned. There appears to be broader support in the Senate for the bailout package. This option would see the Senate vote first which would increase the pressure on the House to pass the Bush administration’s bailout bill.
#3 — Make Small Tweaks to the Bill: Congressional leaders wonder if perhaps there are a couple of small tweaks they can make to the package that would bring along the 12 votes they lost the vote by. Option A, sources say, could be adding a line that some economists have said is absolutely necessary for the FDIC to guarantee all deposits in transaction accounts, not just up to $100,000. That would deal with the credit crunch and it would be quite popular, some on Capitol Hill argue. Option B would be eliminating the mark-to-market rule that many Republicans and conservatives complain about, which ensures financial decision-makers must show their losses in real time.
#4 — Get More Democrats On Board: Finally, one other unlikely option talked about on Capitol Hill is to try to pass the bill almost entirely with the Democratic majority in the House. That would require adding a major stimulus package favored by Democrats, infrastructure spending, unemployment insurance spending, and heating and food stamp assistance for low-income Americans.
Right about now, that fourth option looks awfully appealing. The House Republican caucus has proven itself to be … what’s the phrase I’m looking for … stark raving mad. So why bother working to make radicals happy? The Democratic leadership could scrap yesterday’s bill, put together a truly progressive package, and pass it with or without Republican support. The Senate might be trickier, but if Dems could overcome a filibuster, the president might, under these circumstances, not want to risk a veto. (Robert Kuttner even has a few ideas about what a new-and-improved Democratic package might look like.)
But this is, at this point, unlikely. The Democratic leadership has said, repeatedly, that it’s committed to finding a bipartisan solution, even if the GOP caucus has lost its collective mind.