The U.S. House of Representatives has narrowly rejected a $700 billion bailout package for the U.S. financial sector, falling 13 votes short of the required 218. There is going to be lots of finger-pointing over the next few hours, so let me give my culprits (for the vote failure, not the economic situation): Barack Obama and John McCain.
Each man on Friday night had an opportunity to make a compelling case for the bailout, and for the notion that Wall Streeters and Main Streeters are all in this together. Instead, they offered tepid support and a laundry list of what would need to be in the bill in order to secure their votes. The American people needed to hear why this bill was needed, not just what each candidate wanted in it.
They blew an incomperable chance to shape public opinion — no one is listening to Bush anymore — and today we saw the consequences. Scared reps are up for election among constituents who have not been persuaded that the bailout is necessary for their future security. These folks are not absolved for their gutless vote today, but perhaps they could have been given some cover by the top of their tickets.