May 21, 2024

Moral Bailout

20090110 big government-01
20090110 big government-01 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last couple of months brought us lots of change. Some good, some not so good. But the biggest change of the new administration is just now being spent- an unprecedented $787 billion of spending.

But let’s backtrack a bit and see what brought us into this current state of affairs.

  1. Bush stimulus package – $168,000,000,000
  2. Bank bailout – $350,000,000,000 (another $350 billion to go after further Congressional approval)
  3. Automaker bailout – $17,400,000,000 in loans
  4. Obama stimulus package – $787,000,000,000

Grand total: $1,322,400,000,000

Likely Forthcoming Additional Spending:

  • Mortgage Bailouts (unknown)
  • Automaker Bailouts Round 2 – $21,000,000,000 in loans
  • Bank bailout Round 2 (unknown)
  • Omnibus Spending Bill – $410,000,000,000
  • Healthcare reform – $630,000,000,000

Estimated Total: Who knows?

With an estimated US population of 303,824,640 as of July, that means an average of $4352 will be spent or loaned out for every man, woman, and child in this country.

And this doesn’t count the second half of the bank bailout, any of the forthcoming spending announced in the President’s State of the Union address, the interest on any of the spending, or any additional bailouts that corporations are lining up to ask Congress to provide. Did I mention that repaying the interest on the debt from President Obama is estimated to bring the total cost to well over $1 trillion for that package alone? And although it is small change by the rest of the figures, remember that the U.S. government effectively took over insurance giant AIG with an $85 billion dollar loan in September.

If, in the first month of his administration, President Obama can spend a trillion dollars we don’t have on hand how much further will this go? And more to the point, why have we let this become so commonplace? This recent spate of spending started under Bush and we barely noticed. It continues under Obama and and somehow the shame of the government Somewhere along the way we have grown accustomed to the idea that failure and responsibility aren’t necessary any more. If we don’t have failures to learn from where will most people ever learn morals from? (In case you’re wondering, I don’t think we can count on the majority of Americans learning their morals from the Bible any more and learning fiscal policy from Proverbs is just right out.) If we don’t have fiscal responsibility in Washington, why would we be expected to maintain it in our families?

At this point, I think we could do with a different kind of bailout: a moral bailout.


President Obama promised a transparent administration and an end to Congressional ear-marks. Let’s see that he sticks to that promise. One way to do this is through the various websites tracking the progress of this latest stimulus package ( is one such site, more will no doubt follow).

Keeping track of who is appointed where, who receives what tax breaks, which regulations punish which industries, and who stands to profit from the administration’s agenda will not be an easy task but preventing graft and cronyism is essential to retaining any sense of transparency in the White House.

Moral Uprightness

Closing Guantanamo Bay in his first week in office, was put forth as an example of correcting the moral lapses of the previous administration. While we can debate the wisdom of ordering the closure of a detainment center before knowing what will happen with the detainees, getting the detainees to face military tribunals is probably something that should have happened sooner.

But this was an easy target – with his home state’s governor under impeachment, with overwhelming party majorities in Congress, and with a ambitious agenda, many opportunities exist for favors to paid back with appointments, money to be pushed to supporting political organizations, and industries populated by political allies to be favored over what would be appropriate in a free market.

At last count the number of cabinet nominees with tax issues was up to 4. Certainly easier to raise taxes on the rich if you aren’t paying them! And former Governor Gary Locke of Washington state is the third Commerce Secretary nominee. If you are tired of reading about bailouts, you may want to research the political contributions Locke originating in China may have received. Not terribly encouraging for an administration that was supposed to recapture the moral high ground. The best I can say at the moment is that so far the moral leadership is unproven with room to go in either direction.

Fiscal Leadership

Back to where I started this post – spending money we don’t have on things we don’t need.  Any moral bailout will have to include fiscal leadership. President Obama didn’t campaign on any platform of conservatism and, unfortunately, that included fiscal conservatism. Continued policies of rewarding failure with monetary bailouts and loans (automakers and banks) and not allowing those that exceeded the limits of commonsense (mortgagees with loans they knew they couldn’t afford) to actually go bankrupt and learn their lessons doesn’t set any kind of example for the rest of America. If one can attempt to make money at anything without risk,  why not try it?

One simple opportunity for a needed example is the auto industry. Isn’t time that we held automakers responsible for poor planning and decision-making and held the UAW partially responsible for helping drive the automakers into insolvency? If we need examples to teach fiscal stewardship maybe an example of poor stewardship driving America’s industrial icons into bankruptcy would get us rethinking our personal finances.

In summary, it’s time that we got the bailout we need – not a stimulus package, not a loan, not a monetary bailout, but a moral bailout. But the only thing that we’ve received was so far was a measly $600 dollar rebate check. Will Obama be the leader we need during a recession or can we expect only more rebate checks as his agenda moves forward?

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8 thoughts on “Moral Bailout

  1. All those zeroes make me want to reach for the Rolaids.

    “President Obama promised a transparent administration and an end to Congressional ear-marks. Let’s see that he sticks to that promise.”

    Min, he’s already broken that promise! His stimulus bill that is supposed to provide tax relief and create jobs is LOADED DOWN with pork! He’s paying back the people who got him into office. Tell me, how does giving millions of dollars to ACORN stimulate the economy or create jobs? It doesn’t!

    Also, his transparency site, Is not so transparent. There is a category of $8 billion with a B listed for “other” and there is no breakdown of what “other” is. So $8 billion of our (and our children’s and our grandchildren’s) dollars are going to some undocumented place. That’s not transparency. Pres Obama railroaded this bill through Congress because his first order of business was to play politics and pay back those who got him elected. Who can read a 1,000 page bill in a week? The whole situation makes me sick to my stomach.

    Pres Obama is going to bring the same end to America that has become the end of the American consumer: let’s get stuff on credit that we don’t need and then wait for the government to give us money to pay for it. Now Pres Obama is spending ON CREDIT but where is the greater government to bail his bill out?

    As for the auto industry and the UAW, they need to let the companies file for bankruptcy and enter into union negotiations. The unions are ridiculous and they are the cause of the collapse of the American auto industry. Honda, Toyota, Hyundai, etc. are thriving because they don’t have all the overhead of union costs built into their cars. But no, let’s let Uncle Sam pacify the union workers and keep American car costs sky high for the automakers and the consumers.

    I know the media is dragging my governor through the ringer right now, but I believe Bobby Jindal was spot on in his speech. Seriously, what kind of people are we to borrow money we don’t have to buy things we don’t need from future generations? I’m proud of Bobby for refusing some of the wasteful stimulus money. How will increasing unemployment benefits produce any extra jobs in Louisiana? It won’t – it will just give those on unemployment that much more of a reason to avoid pursuing work since they will be getting more money.

    OK, I’m done. All this just makes me weary to the very bone. Thank goodness I have a better place to look forward to than this.

    Rachels last blog post..In Which I Admit What You Guys Already Know…

  2. MIn, I really don’t know how to begin on how much damage this plan is going to do. The major part is that my children’s future has already been planned out a massive amount of debt.

    This plan is not a benefit but a rock lassoed (not sure on the spelling ) to our necks and it is going to drown us.

    Leticias last blog post..Obama to rescind Bush abortion rule

  3. I’ve given up trying to find some logic in these bailouts, but even so, the continued support of AIG is scandalous. It’s now become perfectly apparent that AIG is going down, and taking a lot of people with it, and still they keep pumping tens of billions of tax payer funds into it. I say they should break up the too-big-to-fail companies like AIG and Citigroup into smaller regionally managed companies, and then just keep afloat those who have some chance of pulling through. Let the ones who’re deep in hock go down.

    1. I believe that the government actually wanted AiG to be broken up, they pushed to have it sell off some of it’s divisions, but no one wants to buy them.

    1. @Lois Lane II: It’s not our money, it’s our great grandchildren’s money.
      @Holly: Hope and change have come, and I fear a big dose of buyers remorse.

  4. Seeing all the debts laid out like that is super scary. I pretty much rely on your blog posts in my inbox to keep up with the latest Obama stats. Wanted to stop by here and thank you for my daily dose of reality. Cough. Sputter. Really.


    I’m fairly certain worrying about it won’t change anything. America is in God’s hands, just as Obama’s heart is…now is the time to make a difference for God, and get our affairs in order.

    Marys last blog post..A stopping place for your child

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