Friday, January 2, 2009

They don't get it

The Washington Post has an exit-interview feature about longtime Bush staffers Joshua Bolten and Stephen Hadley, and I was struck by this passage:
[Bolton] echoed the point when discussing the dramatic shift in economic policy of recent months, dismissing the notion that Bush abandoned free-market principles and simply subcontracted decisions to Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke.
"He hasn't changed his philosophy, but he was advised and accepts . . . that massive government intervention has been necessary in the financial markets in order to protect the viability of the financial markets," Bolten said. "It's been a dialogue," he added. "It's not that Paulson all of a sudden shows up once a week and says, 'Here is what I am going to do,' and the president rubber-stamps it. It is a regular conversation between Paulson and Bernanke and Paulson and the White House."
If accepting "massive government intervention" is not a change in philosophy, then what the hell is it? Notice that "the viability of the financial markets" is used to justify this. OK, suppose you accept that justification. So what justifies the Detroit bailout? What does saving the UAW have to do with "the viability of the financial markets"?

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