For TARP, Stimulus, Give Democrats and Republicans Credit as Economy Turns

Like it or not, Bush’s TARP program is working.

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By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

The stock market is flirting, as I write, with a Dow Jones average of 11,000. Whatever the long-term effect of healthcare reform, it seems like the socialists on Wall Street don't share the worries of Glenn Beck and the stock-your-basement-with-canned-goods-and-ammo crowd.

Productivity is soaring, and the job report for March was bullish. Even after omitting the temporary bump caused by hiring for the 2010 census (a constitutional requirement, wingers), today's stats show that the economic upturn is beginning to create a significant number of jobs.

Remember the much-despised TARP program? How we all assumed that the money loaned to the banks and the auto companies was lost forever? It seems like maybe it wasn't so bad a deal after all. The Treasury plans to sell its 27 percent stake in Citigroup, at an $8 billion profit, in the coming months. The final cost of the $700 billion bailout may be less than $100 billion, much of which went toward saving jobs and retooling the U.S. automobile industry.

It may not be morning in America, folks, but there sure is a glow on the eastern horizon.

I am a big believer that, for all the talk about culture wars and racial milestones and populist outrage and West Hollywood bondage clubs, the determining factor in the 2010 and 2012 elections will be the economy.

It looks now that Barack Obama and the Democrats are in a race. The faster the economy approves, the more that employers turn toward hiring, the further the good times spread to all areas of the country, the better the Democrats will do. They may not win the race by next November but, barring a foreign policy crisis or a bungled natural disaster, the odds that Obama will serve a second term are looking better every day.

The Republicans in Congress, with their scorched-earth strategy, wagered everything on beating Obama early. It will be very difficult, even with today's short attention spans, for the GOP to claim credit for the good times ahead.

Which is too bad, because some Republicans--like George W. Bush and John McCain--deserve a pat on the back. Many of the measures that helped save the United States of America from a second Great Depression--like TARP and the first stimulus bill--originated in the last year of the Bush presidency, with McCain's support.

The Washington Post put it well in an editorial on the Citigroup payback on Thursday:

"There is a...lesson here: TARP was a bipartisan policy. Conceived by a Republican administration, it passed Congress with votes from both parties and has been implemented mostly by a Democratic administration. When the country faced imminent disaster, political leaders suppressed ideology and partisanship--and acted, in the national interest. If only they could apply some of that same spirit to problems before they reach the crisis stage."

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