offers some suggestions that just might work:
1. Declare a Bank Holiday. As FDR did in 1933, Bush should shut down the financial system--banks, stock and currency exchanges--for a week or so to avoid panic selling, cool down market volatility, and give Congress time to craft carefully considered legislation rather than the spend-a-thon slapped together over the last Black Weekend. It bodes ill that liberals and conservatives alike have so little faith in the plan. Take some time; get it right.
2. Reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act. The current mortgage meltdown couldn't have happened without Senator Phil Gramm, now a key economic advisor to John McCain. In 1999 Gramm led the repeal of the Depression-era legislation that had separated commercial from investment banks, allowing Citigroup and other companies to sell mortgage-backed securities that blurred the line between Main Street and Wall Street. Let the financiers handle derivatives, structured investment vehicles, and other arcane financial instruments. Banking should return to its dull, staid roots as a business that pays interest on deposits and collects interest on loans without imperiling those deposits.
3. Bail out homeowners, not lenders. Stop doling out hundreds of billions, even trillions, of dollars, to a few banks and issue the cash to the disaggregated tens of millions of Americans who will spend the money and stimulate the economy instead. Which brings us to…
4. Abolish predatory interest rates. Millions of people in danger of losing their homes would not be in trouble if their banks weren't charging usurious interest rates. Every primary homeowner should be automatically refinanced to a floating 30-year mortgage, with the interest rate set at 1/4 percent point above the fed funds borrowing rate. Similarly, all consumer credit card debt should be refinanced to prime plus 1/4. The same goes for student loans. Secondary and vacation homes don't qualify. Unemployed homeowners can apply for hardship deferrals, allowing them to skip mortgage payments until they find a job. Payday loans ought to fall under similar guidelines. In Utah, the average interest rate on payday loans is 521 percent! Of course, reforms will cut deeply into lenders' earnings. Many banks would be at risk of going under, which is why…
5. Banks that fail should be nationalized. As should investment banks and any other institution that needs federal taxpayer money to avoid failure. If we the people fund 'em, we the people own 'em. If and when the economy recovers, the Treasury collects the spoils and cuts our taxes.
6. Withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, and slash defense spending. Christopher Whalen, managing director of Institutional Risk Analytics, tells USA Today the government may have to cover $1.4 trillion in bad mortgage debt. That's a lot of money, but I have good news: we can get it. In 2007, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq would cost at least $2.4 trillion through the next decade--even more if Obama or McCain keep their pledges to send more troops to Afghanistan next year. Cutting our losses and cutting the $515 billion a year Defense Department appropriations budget would help finance the clean-up of the mortgage meltdown.