Caution well founded

Published 9:41 pm Wednesday, December 17, 2008

American financial institutions to the yet to be approved bailout effort aimed at the U.S. auto industry.

It is misguided and judgmental to suggest Congress was more interested in bailing out a white collar industry and has been reluctant to bail out a blue collar industry. The issues present two very different problems that need two very different solutions.

The caution senators exhibited on the bailout for automakers was valid because they simply wanted to ensure those dollars would not be wasted and used in a way that would bring long-term stability to the industry.

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The problem is not with senators giving pause to a potential resolution for the automakers, but the problem was a lack of pause in the $700 billion bailout to financial institutions.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and congressional leaders have shown disappointment that lending institutions have not, well, lended. The bailout that was sold as a measure to help with the foreclosure crisis has done nothing of the sort to date, just as some predicted before the bailout was passed.

“I think if we have shown anything, we have shown that we know how to respond quickly to situations,” Paulson said during a television interview. “I am focused on it, but I think we have what we need now.”

Responding quickly is of little consequence if the results are not effective. Why lending was hoped for instead of demanded with stronger language in the legislation and more stringent oversight is anyone’s guess, but everyone agrees the first $350 billion has not had the desired effect.

The analysis to date can be nothing less than a failure. Let’s hope the last half of the bailout will have some tangible effect, which has most certainly not been the case with the first half.