Ryan's Support of TARP Doesn't Matter

Bill Tatro
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Posted: Aug 14, 2012 12:01 AM

So I took a one week respite from columns, broadcasts, and world observation. 

I came back with expectations that maybe a few things had changed, most particularly, a new direction away from the fantasies that had enveloped the world such as better employment, QE salvation, and ever-expanding world exports that will probably produce a car in everyone’s garage. 

Unfortunately, one of the world’s main players, Angela Merkel, was also on vacation for a while so nothing significant could happen on the European stage. 

Remember, in real life, understudies don’t make policy. 

I also thought, perhaps, that while I was away Japan would have discovered the layout of deflation. 

But since they are on their third decade of malaise, my hopes were not bounded in reality. 

Therefore, it was left to Mitt Romney to give something new and real to talk about. 

He didn’t disappoint. 

Selecting Paul Ryan (R-WI) as his VP running mate not only stirred up the conservative base, but also emboldened the liberal Democrats. 

Conservatives view Ryan as the Tea Party champion, in some ways a much more palatable Sarah Palin. 

The liberals, on the other hand, see him as “throwing grandma under the bus” with his Medicare and Medicaid proposals.  Coming back refreshed and revitalized, I decided to explore a different facet of Ryan’s background, specifically his support of TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) four years ago. 

More than likely, both sides will sweep this discussion under the rug because TARP was the first of the really big giveaways and painted all sides with a bad brush. 

However, I’m willing to give Ryan a pass on his vote. 

Why? 

Because Hank Paulson along with Ben Bernanke stated unequivocally that if the money was not granted world chaos would ensue. 

Predicting that ATMs would shut down, payrolls would not be met, and checks would not be honored, all while leading to widespread outbreaks of civil disobedience and the likelihood martial law, one must believe they were telling the truth. 

It was time to cast all politics aside in order to give them what they wanted.  At that moment, I believe, it would have been reckless for Ryan to vote any other way.  Hindsight, however, is something very different, and the TARP (aka The Goldman Sachs Reclamation Bill) would probably receive a much different reception today, or at least I hope it would.  (Of course, that wish could also be based on fantasy.) 

It seems that either I need to take a much longer vacation or just accept the fact that we live in a world that embraces wishful thinking and understand that Merkel, Paulson, and Bernanke, along with Japan, have all proven that it’s much easier to sell fantasy than to persuade somebody to buy reality. 

Will Paul Ryan take the same approach?

I’ll tell you after my next, lengthier sabbatical.