New York

On Auto Bailout, Congress Talks Economic “Fire,” “Meltdown”


The most interesting thing about the just-concluded auto industry bailout hearings in D.C. today (the Times‘ liveblogging of which has just concluded) was the apocalyptic tone of many of the Representatives. After a wonkish beginning (“equal sacrifice,” blah blah) the rhetoric escalated from Rep. Kanjorski’s “This is not a time for us to horse around” to Felix Rohatyn’s “the economy is falling out from under our feet” to Columbia’s Jeffrey Sachs’ “This is our largest industry. Are we going to watch it melt down by Christmastime?” to Rep. Green’s “we are playing with economic fire,” and concluding with Chairman Barney Frank’s prediction that the committee will come up with “a bill next week that nobody likes.”

The Detroit Free Press was also excitable, running a front page editorial warning the Congressmen that “You don’t want an economic disaster on your hands,” for which there would be “hell to pay” all across America.

Our own Ward Harkavy says: banana oil. “This is a direct plea for corporate welfare,” he writes. “This exasperating situation gives welfare a bad name.”

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