A Responsible Exercise of Representative Government
The outline of the deal reached by legislators and the Administration represents not just the restoration of confidence and liquidity for Wall Street and thus a breakwater for Main Street, but also a reassuring return of purposeful legislating by the Congress. I expect not to like many of the details, but my party is in the minority on the Hill, and cannot expect to carry such matters. President Bush and his team have been acting responsibly throughout this crisis and continue to do so. The most talented and mature Republicans in the Congress –I single out Senator Jon Kyl as I interviewed him on Friday and can thus say with assurance that he has been working hard to resolve this incredibly complex and perilous situation— have been working to assure the package does what it has to do with minimum long-term disruptions to the market. From the account in the Wall Street Journal, Speaker Pelosi also played an important role worthy of her office in bringing the negotiations to a close. All Americans should thank her and the other responsible legislators for working to get this done before the markets opened on Monday.
As Bill Dyer notes below, John McCain has also been working hard to rescue the rescue, demonstrating a presidential temperament that will serve him very well if he is elected and must work with Democratic majorities. (For an account of Senator McCain’s conduct in the White House meeting, see my interview with White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joel Kaplan.) The next question is the the response of the House Republicans, which I hope follow that of the Senate GOP and the Administration. Some will not be able to sign on, I suppose, because they genuinely believe the package to be a disaster. Any sincerely held view should be respected, but I think the majority of the GOP House members will recognize that this is one of those rare moments where they must act as the Democrats did after 9/11 and through the following year –they must act to shape but not obstruct the will of the democratically-elected majority and the president in the course and aftermath of a crisis.
Such episodes as the one we are going through are always watched closely around the globe, and nowhere more so than in emerging democracies like Iraq’s. If, as appears likely, the two parties which are on opposite sides of a deep ideological divide can work together to resolve a crisis and then immediately return to throwing hammers at each other for five weeks, this will be as great an example of the wonders of our system that can be imagined.