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Back to business -- as usual

By Michael J. Smith on Friday October 3, 2008 09:08 PM

My uncharacteristic pride in the US House of Representatives was unsurprisingly short-lived. As everyone knows, the poor saps today reversed their earlier rejection of the Busted Speculators' Relief Act of 2008, and handed over a cool trillion or so of the public's money to the grotesque clowns who got us into this jam in the first place -- and who lived mighty high on the hog while they did it.

Once again the Democrats -- those dedicated fans of hedge-fun genius -- led the charge. Monday's rejection of the bill saw a Dem vote of 140-95 in favor. Calls from Barack (among other things) boosted this margin, today, to 172-63. The Republicans, who opposed the bill on Monday by a quite lopsided margin, experienced some erosion due to relentless pressure, but still honorably gave a majority "nay" -- 108-91.

The professional thumbsuckers have pondered this development, of course. Here's the Washington Post:

[T]he change from Monday's vote to today's tally is clear: The number of Republicans voting for the bill went from 65 to 91, and the number of Democrats in favor from 140 to 172. Those increases are attributable to four main factors: 1) Monday's 778-point plunge in the Dow, which spooked many lawmakers; 2) The apparent swing in public opinion after the initial defeat; 3) The addition by the Senate of several expensive goodies, including business tax breaks, an increase in FDIC insurance on bank deposits, and mental health parity legislation; and 4) The hard work of leaders on both sides of the aisle to coax more members into the "aye" column.
Some interesting points here. The stock market threatened to hold its breath on Monday -- and its parents, like the parents of spoiled children everywhere, caved.

The "apparent swing in public opinion" has no link in the WaPo item -- because of course there was no such swing. Earlier today Steny Hoyer optimistically observed that phone calls to his office were now only 3-1 against the bailout -- as contrasted with 6-1 a few days earlier. Always look on the sunny side, Steny. And ignore your constituents -- 3-1, 6-1, schmix-to-one, this is Wall Street we're talkin' about here.

The WaPo piece interestingly continues:

Vulnerable lawmakers, with very few exceptions, did not switch their positions, still voting overwhelmingly against the bill....

[T]here are 44 incumbent House members who face notable challenges in the November, ranging from contests that are potentially competitive to those that are very tight. Of those 44, nine voted in favor of the rescue bill on Monday. Today, 12 vulnerable lawmakers voted aye, meaning that just three switched their votes -- GOP Reps. Randy Kuhl (N.Y.), Joe Knollenberg (Mich.) and Jean Schmidt (Ohio).

All the other vulnerable members stayed in the "no" column.... [W]hile 60 percent of the House backed the rescue today, just 27 percent of the members worried about the November election did.

Poor devils -- caught between their "leadership" and their constituents. Oh to be a purveyor of tranquilizing gin to the Lower House this week. One could invest the proceeds in gold, or something -- and retire.

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