By Tom Eley
3 October 2008
In the wake of Monday’s vote in the US House of Representatives rejecting the $700 billion bailout package for the American financial industry, prominent voices in the US and international media have responded by denouncing the lower house of Congress and complaining that the American political system is too susceptible to popular opinion and insufficiently obedient to the will of the corporate and political elite.
The yearning for more authoritarian forms of rule was expressed by, among others, Michael Gerson, the former chief speechwriter for George W. Bush. In a column in the Washington Post, he complained, “[I]t is now clear that American political elites have lost the ability to quickly respond to a national challenge by imposing their collective will.” The Times of London, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, was even more blunt, headlining a column, “Congress is the Best Advert for Dictatorship.”
Sherman, who voted against the bailout bill on Monday, said, “The one thing that’s been proven is the absolute fear-mongering that’s being used to drive us is false.” He continued, “I’ve seen members turn to each other and say if we don’t pass this bill, we’re going to have martial law in the United States.”
Rep. Brad Sherman Martial Law
Jaralero on Oct 5, 2008
October 2, 2008, U.S. House of Representatives. Congressman Brad Sherman [D-CA] asks:
“But why are we bailing out the Bank of China? Why are we bailing out the Saudi royal family?…
The only way they can pass this bill is by creating and by sustaining a panic atmosphere…
A few Members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no.”
I thank the Chair. I have got 30 minutes, and I will share some with the gentlelady from Ohio in just a second to describe the flaws with this bill. Believe it or not, 30 minutes is not long enough. But first I want to mention about the calls that are coming into our office.
The calls used to be from people around the country. Now Wall Street firms have their employees unplugging those headsets to call investors and instead calling Members of Congress. So now the calls coming in to at least my office have shifted from 20-1 against this bailout package for Wall Street, down to about 3-1 or 4-1 against this bailout.
I ask my colleagues not to be confused. Edit out some of those calls that are coming to you from folks who are being paid to make the call, and you will realize the country remains absolutely overwhelmingly opposed to this Wall Street bailout bill.
I thank again the gentleman from Ohio, and I will make a few more points.
We had a meeting of the Skeptics Caucus, which is now a bipartisan Skeptics Caucus, where we heard from Bill Isaac. Mr. Isaac was Chair of the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), having first been appointed to that board by President Carter and then appointed by Reagan. You don’t find very many people who have support on both sides of the aisle like that.
The only way they can pass this bill is by creating and by sustaining a panic atmosphere.
That atmosphere is not justified. Many of us were told in private conversations, if we voted against this bill, that, on Monday, the sky would fall and that the market would drop 2,000 or 3,000 points the first day and another 2,000 the second day.
A few Members were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted “no.”