Treading Carefully Around the ‘N-Word’
As Washington moves closer to taking over some of the country’s most insolvent banks, it’s interesting to watch congressional Democrats squirm to endorse the idea without attaching to it a label of nationalization.
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) became the latest Democratic leader to tread carefully around using the term, telling MSNBC that the possibility of the government taking controlling ownership of some of the largest banks would not constitute nationalization.
It’s easy to throw words around like “nationalization.” I think that the American taxpayer needs some protection. That’s why, in the original part of the stimulus — that is, the bailout, the TARP, that we made sure that the American taxpayer had a way of being paid back for their investment. That’s all this is — that’s what this is all about. And it’s the right way to go. It’s not nationalization. It’s protecting the taxpayers’ interests.
Reid went on to defend federal interventions in private industry as a “stabilizing” necessity in times of economic distress.
For decades the federal government — American federal government — has been involved in the private sector. We did it with the railroads. We did it with highways.
So I think what we’re doing in banking now, at a time of distress, is the right thing to do. And we’re getting very close to stabilizing the banking industry.
Reid is hardly alone in his care for choosing language. Last week, Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Banking Committee, told Bloomberg the government may have to take over some banks, adding, “I don’t welcome that at all.”
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told The Huffington Post that he’d support a short-term nationalization of the country’s “zombie banks,” but “it should be the last arrow in the quiver.” Schumer went out of his way to emphasize that he was making “just a general comment about a general situation … I don’t have any specific institution in mind.”
Just one question: Why, after the “greatest financial minds” on Wall Street just spent the last decade running their firms into the ground, would the country still prefer that these same folks be in charge of rectifying the mess?