Don’t Get Sanguine About This Bill

After the lessons we learned on Monday, it’s a good idea to pay attention to people who say that the bailout bill is going to have difficulty getting passed in the House. And Andrew Leonard, today, says just that:

The prospects in the House are still up in the air, complicated by the reality that this new bill is anything but "clean" — it is is, in fact, three, or even four four, bills, squashed together. What was once a 3-page three-page plan from Henry Paulson that became 110 pages long when considered by the House is now a 451-page monster.

The "Emergency Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008" 2008 now also includes the "Energy Energy Improvement and Extension Act of 2008" 2008 and a smorgasbord of other add-ons…

A House of Representatives that has already rejected this bill will now confront a new bill stocked with unpaid-for tax breaks that conservative House Democrats — the infamous "Blue Dogs" — have been stalwart in opposing.

"Are you trying to jam the House?" one reporter asked Reid. The Senate Majority Leader majority leader denied he was attempting to do any such thing, but it seems self-evident than in attempting to rally significant support for the bailout in the Senate, he has orchestrated the creation of a piece of legislation that is guaranteed to ruffle feathers in the House.

Now is no time for fiscal conservatism, so I doubt that House Democrats will oppose the bill just because it extends a bunch of tax breaks for things like motorsports racing track facilities. But I do wonder why the Senate is going first, here: the Senate was meant to be the easier chamber to pass. By forcing the House to vote on a massive bill larded up with something for everybody to object to, they’re just making life harder on the House.

What’s more, the financial markets knew exactly what they were getting with the original Paulson 3-page bill. The amended version voted on Monday was more complicated, but still within the ken of traders. This monster, on the other hand, has far too many moving parts. And I do fear that if and when it does pass the House, the markets will drop. Two days ago, the $700 billion bailout bill might have been sufficient to unfreeze credit markets. By the end of this week, with massive bank bailouts going on around the world, there’s a good chance that it won’t be enough. Not even with exemptions from excise tax for certain wooden arrows designed for use by children.

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