I was watching highlights (lowlights) of Assistant Treasury Secretary Neel Kashkari's testimony before a congressional committee yesterday.
In a nutshell (emphasis on "nut"), the blowhards in Congress were excoriating him because the $700 billion bailout fund that was passed SIX WHOLE WEEKS AGO has not yet turned around the economy and produced an economic miracle in time for Christmas.
Here's why I can never testify before Congress. If it were me instead of Mr. Kashkari, this is how it might have gone:
Congressman Loudmouth: Mr. Baker - The TARP program clearly isn't working. The economy is still in the tank. What gives?
Assistant Treasury Secretary Baker: Congressman. I am sorry that after six weeks that every American can not afford a new McMansion and a Lexus, but these things take time.
Congresswoman Whiner: You mean to tell me that we might have to wait until AFTER the holidays before I can tell my constituents to go out and buy that new flat screen TV and a front-loading washing machine?
Baker: Yes, Congresswoman. In fact, this country has been spending itself into a hole like we were on meth for the past eight years. We're leveraged to our eyes and most of that money is owed to six guys in Beijing who plan to turn the Lincoln Memorial into luxury hotel and spa when we can't pay off our debts in a few years. Now I realize that I have three Ph.Ds in economics and you have a valid drivers license and a pass to the House cafeteria, but by my reckoning, it might take more than six weeks to undo eight years of economic malfeasance.
Congressman Jerkweed: Mr. Baker, I can not go back home for our six week holiday vacation and tell my constituents who are worried about their jobs that they might not be employed in 2009, when I get something like four months of vacation a year and put in a five hour work day, three days a week here in Washington.
Baker: Well, Congressman, I can appreciate your dilemma. You've never seen a problem that you couldn't solve by throwing massive amounts of your constituents' hard-earned money at it and then telling them that you have actually done something to help them. Might I suggest you pull your head out of your ass, get some fresh air going to your brain and actually think about what you are doing and saying before you whip the whole country into such an uproar that they come to your house with pitchforks and torches.
You get the idea.
Far be it from me to defend any branch of the government (in this case, President Bush's Treasury Department), but if we are going to do something, at least give it more than five minutes to work.
Plus, if we could all find it in our hearts, during this time of peace and joy, to be patient, we can blame it all on President Obama in five weeks or so.