It’s really hard to know which aphorism, adage or apothegm that passes for common wisdom is guiding the bailout efforts of the benighted Bush administration.
Is it “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again?” Or, “the third time’s the charm?” Or, “it ain’t over ’til it’s over?”
Whatever the guiding principle is (assuming there is one and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is not simply chasing any ‘solution’ that flutters by), one hopes that something starts to work really soon. There are times when it seems like there’s just not that much rope left.
The Treasury has stumbled from one ineffective measure to the next so often that Mr. Paulson is beginning to look like Lurch from the Addams Family. (Central casting, listen up.)
Mr. Paulson is not quite there yet, but he is getting very close to receiving the ultimate accolade in this administration. That is to say, one of these days, the president will tell him “Heckuva job, Paulie! (Hankie?)”
Anyway, more than $200 billion into the bailout, we’re on version 3. First it was buying bad assets. Then it was pumping money into banks. Now … stay tuned, folks, the Treasury Secretary has another press conference coming right up.
You can see how well pumping money into banks has worked. The banks that got it (or had it forced on them) apparently have put it in mattresses of their own, holding it for an opportune acquisition or simply holding it, but not using it to provide loans for beleaguered, credit-starved businesses and consumers.