Debate in C’ville, Disaster on Wall Street

Today I traveled to Charlottesville to debate my friend Chris Saxman (R-Staunton) on the merits of the Presidential election.  I represented Senator Obama and he stood for Senator McCain. 

We had the debate before employees of the C’ville corporate headquarters of State Farm Insurance.  It was simulcast to State Farm employees across the Mid-Atlantic region. 

We had a strong and civil argument.  We each scored some hits, I imagine.  For example, we differed on our respective candidates’ health care plans, tax plans and emphasis on renewable energy. 

One point we did agree on was the need for the Federal government to be proactive in the current economic crisis and drop the partisanship.  In light of today’s defeat in Cogress of the “Bail-out (or Buy-In)” proposal and the resulting 778-point crash of the Dow, that role is becoming ever more salient. 

There is no more time for ideology.  The stakes are simply too high. 

I have mentioned the Wall Street crisis several times on this blog and in public, mainly on how it impacts our state budget.  However, there are larger issues.  The #1 issue is that Americans must have confidence in our economy and in our financial situation. 

They must have confidence that a dollar deposited in an FDIC-insured bank is safe.  They must have confidence that a diversified stock investment will eventually make money.  They must have confidence that American businesses have access to short-term and long-term credit.

Right now, the poison of mortgage-backed securities has made lending institutions (and even some insurers) dangerously suspect.  As a result, some financial firms have gone down and others are ready to go.  But while we don’t necessarily need the individual institutions which fail, we do need the structure itself to remain in place. 

Sure we can score easy political points.  Wall Street greed?  Disgusting.  Eight-figure CEO bonuses?  A travesty.  Bailing out a failed business?  Anti-American.  All of these objections are valid and, to some extent, should be expressed in any final bill. 

But at the end of the day we have to pick up the pieces to carry on. We need the Wall Street market, if not the marketers themselves.  Congress cannot afford to adjourn this fall without passing some legislation to unravel the terrible logjam. 

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