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Late on Wednesday evening the Senate passed their own version of the Wall Street rescue package by a margin of 74 to 25 . Unlike the House the Representatives where all of the members are up for election this year, only a third of U.S. senators have to face the voters next month. It was therefore easier for them to ignore an irate populace opposed to this legislation and instead follow the lead of their major campaign donors who have paid them the big bucks for their assistance in looting the U.S. treasury.
In order to make the bill more sellable, a small bone or two was thrown to the little guy. A number of tax breaks amounting to a few cents for the populace for every dollar for Wall Street were thrown in to the mix to help buy off some key congressional votes in the house. The provisions have nothing to do with fixing the financial system of course. They include disaster aid for Texas, Louisiana and the Midwest (as if congress wouldn't vote for this otherwise), aid for rural school programs, and tax breaks for people who live in states without state income taxes. Some fixing of the AMT (alternative minium tax), keeping it from affecting several million middle income earners, was also thrown into the bill. Many of the House members that voted against the bailout bill the first time would like these provisions. Only a little over a dozen or so need to change their votes. If they are willing to do so for a few cents on the dollar, their votes obviously come pretty cheap.
Also added to the Senate bill was a provision to raise FDIC insurance on bank deposits to $250,000 per person (already the limit for IRAs in banks). While this may be a good idea, this provision could wind up to be extremely costly to the government. Bank failures will eventually drain the FDIC insurance fund (this would have happened already because of the failures of Washington Mutual and Wachovia, but the banks taking them over are paying off the funds the FDIC would have had to pay, then writing off an equivalent amount of bad loans, and will be reimbursed by that amount through the bailout plan). The government is going to wind up paying $250,000 per account for a large number of depositors of failed banks one way or the other in the future (instead of $100,000). Needless to say, the senate bill doesn't assume these future costs will exist.
The Senate bill is just another confirmation that our representatives in Washington see no limits whatsoever are needed on government spending. They take a break-the-bank expenditure bill and try to pass it be adding more expenditures (the likely amount not adequately reflected in the proposed costs). While the U.S. is not the first government in history to engage in such profligate behavior, the powers that be seem to think it can be the first in history to avoid destructive inflation or even hyperinflation as a consequence of doing so. Just in case reality rears its ugly head at some point, you just might want to pick up some gold and silver.
NEXT: No Assurance in Insurance; Wachovia's Deal is Not a Deal
Organizer, New York Investing meetup
This posting is editorial opinion. Like all other postings for this blog, there is no intention to endorse the purchase or sale of any security.