He gets down on his knees and begs for Her Majesty's mercy! But her heart is hard, and does not stir for clemency—for this decree is not to her liking.
No, that wasn't a scene from Elizabeth I; that was the on Capitol Hill as Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson on bent knee begged House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for enough votes to pass the Troubled Asset Repurchase Program (TARP).
And so it is. Today's US financial fate—if it wasn't already—is now hyper-politicized drama. If it was thought the current financial rescue plan was already political in its inception, it's become a political beast in the hands of lawmakers. Politicians, if nothing else, are predictable in their practices.
Potential Wall Street interests aside, the proposed bill in its original form was crafted with a focus on saving the financial system (and the economy by extension) from meltdown. But with political elections looming and disenchantment with Wall Street among constituents palpable, politicians can't but regard the bill without . After all, what's a politician without an office?
Lawmakers from both parties are trying to wrangle concessions from the proposed bill, causing a delay in the passage of a purportedly urgent financial salve. The rescue proposal talks political agreement as pledged on Thursday and were on Friday. This delay adds a degree of uncertainty for markets—after all, politicians may use this time to tack on provisions that have little to do with the current financial crisis and everything to do with politics.
Already have been made to the proposal, including provisions regarding foreclosure prevention, executive compensation, equity stakes, and oversight boards—and still others are being discussed. are diligently contacting their Congressional representatives. Challengers to incumbents' seats up for re-election are . Presidential candidates are to presumably showcase leadership skills despite questionable financial expertise. Unfortunately, pandering to public opinion doesn't always mean acting in the interests best befitting the current situation.
Still, it's yet unknown what shape or scope the final draft bill will take. It is encouraging to see so much deliberation and resistance to authorizing a check for $700 billion. Then again, perhaps greater urgency would limit potential damage done by politically motivated add-ons. It's simply too soon to know.
One thing we do know: Had it truly been Elizabeth and not Nancy…they'd all have lost their heads by now.
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*The content contained in this article represents only the opinions and viewpoints of the Fisher Investments editorial staff.