Best columns: Punishing precondition, Bailout first

Henry Paulson is asking for $700 billion, and Congress should say yes, says Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post. Punishing some of the frauds responsible for this mess is a great idea, says Brett Arends in Th

A pound of flesh, then a bailout

Henry Paulson is asking for $700 billion, and Congress should say yes, says Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post. And while it should demand oversight, Congress should also forgo “window dressing” like executive pay caps and give Paulson “a clean rescue package that will actually save the economy.” It’s not like Paulson, a lame duck, is doing this for “self-aggrandizement”—he “peered into the abyss” and doesn’t want to take us there. There was some “Wall Street malfeasance,” yes, and while the raging mob is not blameless in this mess, it is understandably angry. So maybe, to get a deal, we need some “catharsis,” like televised “exemplary hangings” of a few CEOs. The ad revenue could go toward paying down the $700 billion.

A bailout, then jail time

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Punishing some of the frauds responsible for this mess (through criminal trials, not public hangings) is a great idea, says Brett Arends in The Wall Street Journal. “But that’s not going to help the rest of us now. Nor is plunging the economy into a depression.” We are at the end of a huge debt bubble and “facing a massive financial implosion.” How massive? Look at the U.S. in 1929 and Japan in 1989. Neither country acted quickly enough, and the U.S. got the Great Depression and Japan “20 years of stagnation.” If lawmakers don’t like the plan, they can amend it—”just saying they don’t like the one on the table isn’t enough.” But for the sake of “every American worker and saver,” they need to act.

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