Why The Bush Paulsen Proposal Is Something To Fear.
This is not intended to be an analysis of the financial or economic merits of the rescue package published by the Bush administration yesterday afternoon.
Bush Proposal is a text provided by the New York Times.
I believe this proposal should be either stopped or drastically modified, and I would hope that the reasons I identify will prompt people to contact their Representatives and Senators to contribute to that purpose.
This proposal is in the long line of unconstitutional "faits accomplis" which the Bush administration has adopted as its preferred tactic in confronting any kind of emergency. The practices and tactics which have been advocated and pursued on behalf of the conception of the unitary Presidency and the supra-legal doctrine of the spurious powers of the Commander-in-Chief are now being applied to the field of financial and economic policy making.
The unacceptable proposals, in my view, are these following. What is objectionable about them ought to be enough to stall the whole package pending serious discussion.
1) there is a grant of absolute power to the Treasury Secretary
2) the Treasury Secretary’s decisions are exempt from review
3) the proposal attempts to forbid judicial system review of the initiative.
These powers are more far-reaching than those claimed in the original enabling act used to take the country to war in Iraq. They attempt to enshrine the principle of absolute power, shielded from legal and political review that has been the feature of this administration.
I am not aware of any precedent for the kind of powers claimed in this document from any stage in US history, be it Lincoln’s war against the slave interest, or World War II. If anyone does have access to precedent they should make it available. In both these life and death conflicts Congress and the Judiciary continued to review Executive Branch decisions and actions (Harry Truman's investigations of contractor malfeasance). What is there about this crisis which requires the scrapping of the constitution when this has been sacrosanct and unthinkable, even in war time.
There are political and economic issues to be discussed about the financial and economic situation. The US way has always been to discuss openly, weigh merits, consider both the informed opinion of experts as well as general opinion of electorate and population before making reasoned decisions on the merits, bearing in mind circumstances and conditions, unknowns, consequences and contingencies. This kind of deliberative process produces prudent chooses of action not rash leaps into the unknown. This kind of procedure is typically identified as “democratic”.
What has been put on the table would outlaw that approach. What goes into decisions would be the province of the executive branch, there would be no recourse against the decisions made, nor the people involved in making them. Neither would there be opportunity to challenge, discuss, and rebut the evidence or arguments mustered in support of such decisions.
Where such ideas come from is anybody’s guess, but for sure they are not American. Congress should not be stampeded into passing this kind of enabling legislation which appears to be based on retreading claims to supreme unchecked power and contentions that unprecedented emergency conditions require that proven and tested methods (Constitutional system) be scrapped in favor of the arbitrary, the willful, and mostly likely the unchecked and the incompetent because people with their agenda to push have decided it is now out of date.
The links below provide some commentary and analysis on both the aspects of the proposal addressed here, and the financial side of it.