Feature

The cost of not rescuing Wall Street

What happens if Congress does nothing?

The plan Henry Paulson came up with to bail out Wall Street is falling apart, said Steve Chapman in the Chicago Tribune, but so what? The consequences of giving him his way—rewarding inept capitalists, and risking taxpayer money on a plan that might not work—are “so awful that the alternative doesn’t look so bad.” What’s the worst that could happen? A recession? “They end, usually in a matter of months.”

If a deal isn’t reached and signed into law by Sunday night, said John Podhoretz in Commentary, “we will wake up Monday morning to a market meltdown overseas of a sort the world has never seen.” Then, when the U.S. markets open, “we will see just how much poorer the investing class can get in just one day.”

We’re all angry about using tax dollars to cover bad bets by rich bankers, said Steven Pearlstein in The Washington Post. But we have a simple choice: “You can try to prevent a financial meltdown or you can teach Wall Street a lesson, but you can’t do both at the same time.” If we choose to do nothing, it will “cost us a lot more than $700 billion.”

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