Henry Paulson ends bailouts, saying, 'Mission accomplished!'

... while Rahm Emanuel reads Wall Street CEOs the riot act

Across the nation, Americans are celebrating the end of the Wall Street War. The big bankers are saved!

No more bailouts, says Henry Paulson.

In "Has the worst of financial crisis passed? Paulson says yes," McClatchy's Kevin G. Hall writes this morning:

Taking care not to declare victory, the chairman of the Federal Reserve and the secretary of the treasury told Congress on Tuesday that the unprecedented rescue efforts over the past eight weeks appear to have prevented the collapse of financial markets and returned them to a semblance of normalcy.

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Yes, if by "normalcy" you mean astounding numbers of foreclosures, massive budget cuts in every state from South Dakota to South Carolina, layoffs of hundreds of thousands of people, outrageously high mortgage payments still due on houses that are suddenly worth nothing.

In essence, Paulson really did declare victory. Now, who exactly is going to make Wall Street safe for democracy?

Listening to Paulson announce the end of the Great Bailout of '08 is like listening to George W. Bush on May 1, 2003, when he declared, "Mission accomplished!"

One difference: Bush was in his cute little military playsuit, and Paulson was wearing his normal coat and tie.

One similarity: More Americans have suffered in Iraq since Bush declared victory, and more Americans will be suffering here in the States since Paulson's hailing of a return to normalcy.

One big difference: In Iraq, the government at least tried to stop suicide bombers or hunted down their colleagues afterwards.

Over here, it was the investment bankers who blew up Wall Street, and the federal government stepped in to hand over billions of dollars to help those suicide bombers who survived.

Paulson patched the potholes on Wall Street — mission accomplished. What about the collateral damage? Helpless civilians in Iraq, helpless civilians here in the States.

Not only are Americans losing their homes at record rates, but the collateral damage from Wall Street's suicidal behavior is immense. States and cities have drastically slashed budgets, which means that vital public services like education, health, and mass transit are of course the first to go. Who's fraggin' whom?

Contrary to what Paulson says, the war is not over, despite the fact that Wall Street is pulling out jobs from under us.

One sign that the conflict isn't over is that for the first time in decades, an emissary of a U.S. president came to Wall Street and read CEOs the riot act. Straight up, Rahm Emanuel called on them to support — gasp! — universal health care.

What is he, some sort of Commie?

In "Emanuel Sets a Challenge," the Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman writes:

Since the president-elect named Mr. Emanuel his chief of staff, the famously voluble Chicago congressman has limited his public appearances and strained to stay out of the news. But on Tuesday night, he was combative with a business audience.

He was asked his views on the push by labor unions to allow workplaces to be organized with the signing of cards attesting to union support rather than a secret ballot. Mr. Emanuel declined to say whether the White House would support the legislation, but he said the unions are addressing the concerns of a middle class that has seen U.S. median income slide over the past eight years, while health care, energy and education costs have soared.

He said business leaders should help find solutions to the middle-class squeeze or face a revolt. "We need a strategy as a country to make sure they have an opportunity to move up that ladder," he said. . . .

He stressed that the new administration would "throw long and deep," taking advantage of the economic crisis to push wholesale changes in health care, taxes, financial re-regulation and energy. "The American people in two successive elections have voted for change, and change cannot be allowed to die on the doorsteps of Washington," Mr. Emanuel said.

True, Emanuel also left the big cigars with a we're-all-in-this-together message:

"I want you to know, I've got your back," he told them. "I'll feel better knowing that you've got my back."

You can only hope that Emanuel, said to be a ruthless operative, was simply channeling the similarly ruthless Michael Corleone's words to Frankie Five Angels, "Keep your friends close — and your enemies closer."

If Emanuel's true to his words of praise for unions looking out for the middle class while businessmen aren't, then these CEOs had better watch their own backs.

If there's no CEO currently within your reach, take a stab at these stories . . .

NO PARTICULAR ORDER:

N.Y. Times: 'For More of Mexico’s Wealthy, Cost of Living Includes Guards'

Jewish Daily Forward: 'Yid Vid: Natalie Portman and Rashida Jones Address the Economic Crisis'

A Glimpse of the World (Howard W. French): 'Obama and Africa: The Change We Have Been Waiting For?'

[A] new war looms in the Congo, a place where unbeknown to most Americans the United States has played a critical and mostly disastrous role since independence from Belgium in 1960. According to respectable international estimates some four million people have died in the Congo as a result of wars there since 1996, the greatest toll anywhere since World War II.

There is a powerful argument to be made that this disaster, along with the Rwandan genocide that preceded it, is Bill Clinton’s most important foreign policy legacy, and an Obama policy toward Africa run by many of the same people and carrying forward Clinton era thinking would be a sign of disdain for the continent and its problems.

McClatchy: 'Why not let Detroit's Big Three go bankrupt?'

N.Y. Daily News: 'MTA's in fast lane for big hike'

Express bus riders are looking at $7.50 per trip, up from $5, under the plan being released by the MTA tomorrow, according to sources.

"What, are they insane?" Liz Salsbury said as she boarded an express bus to Queens in midtown Tuesday.

McClatchy: 'America could get its first black attorney general'

Wall Street Journal: 'Emanuel Sets a Challenge'

President-elect Barack Obama's incoming White House chief of staff challenged chief executives and other business leaders Tuesday night to join the new administration in a push for universal health care, saying incremental increases in coverage won't be acceptable.

McClatchy: 'Taxpayers will pay for Gonzales' private attorney'

McClatchy: 'Under Iraq troop pact, U.S. can't leave any forces behind'

N.Y. Daily News: 'Court clerk indicted in mortgage scam'

McClatchy: 'Has the worst of financial crisis passed? Paulson says yes.'

Washington Post: 'Why Clinton Can't Decide'

N.Y. Daily News: 'Ex-Clinton deputy Holder hailed as "smart" and "fair" guy'

N.Y. Times: 'Holder Seen as Justice Choice as Obama Forms Team'

N.Y. Daily News: 'Teachers rule again: School jobs steady as others decline'

Wall Street Journal: 'Top Traders Still Expect the Cash: Wall Street CEOs Are Giving Up Pay, but Hotshots Are Another Story'

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