Tuesday night, Neil Cavuto asked the question about the bank bailouts, and whether or not a President Cruz, or Rubio, or Paul, or Bush, or Kasich, would help organize a government rescue of, say, BankAmerica if it were on the verge of going under.
Almost all those who answered the question – with the exception of Bush and Kasich, both of whom worked for banks, and both of whom answered incoherently – all of them said, no, they would let BankAmerican fail. When Cavuto pressed them on the question of people’s savings, they continued to say no, they wouldn’t bail out BankAmerica, they’d let it go under.
And that was it. No elaboration of what that would mean for people, no discussion of the consequences. Just talk of “too big to fail” and how lousy Dodd-Frank is
I cannot begin to describe how awful an answer that is.
Without even talking about the policy, which might or might not make sense (although these same candidates for the most part didn’t want to talk about breaking up the “too big to fail” institutions, or how interconnected all the banks are), the answer as an argument to the people who were watching at home was catastrophically bad.
Cavuto pressed this point several times, and not one of the candidates – not even Ted “Smartest Guy In the Room And I’ll Make Damn Sure Everyone Knows It” Cruz – brought up the fact that we have deposit insurance in the form of the FDIC. Individuals probably don’t have anything to worry about in terms of their own bank accounts, even pretty well-off individuals. But nobody thought to mention this fact.
Look, I realize that the bank bailouts and TARP are, right now, as toxic among Republicans as a tranche of subprime mortgages was in 2008 to an institutional investor. But when people hear “bank failure,” they don’t think, “Wall Street Fat Cats,” they think Jimmy Stewart cancelling his honeymoon to go save the Building & Loan in It’s A Wonderful Life, which people have only seen a thousand times in their own lives. They think bank runs and desperate looks and breadlines and Mary Poppins and life savings’ wiped out and lives ruined.
They think personal devastation.
And yet not one word that any of these Presidential candidates uttered did anything to reassure people that it wouldn’t happen to them.
Now think for a second how a rational, intelligent version of Joe Biden would have answered that. (Yes, I know, imagining such a thing is like imagining a vegetarian lion, but work with me.)
He’d talk about how people count on those banks, and count on they’re being safe in order to feed their families and pay their rent or their kids’ college tuition. He’d talk about how he’d make sure that every last one of those workers were taken care of, how not one of them would lose s dime, but how the bankers who made those mistakes and put those lives at risk would have their toys taken away.
He’d talk about how nobody would get out of paying a penny they owed, and all those loans would go to a healthy bank, one run by people who weren’t greedy, and how all those savings would be made whole. And he’d say that thank God and FDR we have deposit insurance, so the little guy can’t get trampled when the big guys make mistakes. Because he grew up knowing people who had lost everything in the Depression, everything being not much to begin with, and by God he wasn’t going to let that happen again.
This is no small mistake, no “nobody’s perfect” moment. This is basic stuff that wasn’t mentioned at all, and that Cavuto pressed people on, making it sound as though individual savings were at risk. I’m sure he knows better and had a follow-up that would have made it clear, but with nobody biting, he never had a chance to bring that out.
The Democrats are going to demagogue this to death, and there’s no reason for it.
Fortunately, right now, Hillary, Woman of the People, seems to be Wall Street’s favorite candidate, so there should be other opportunities to push this line. Let’s hope they make better use of it.