Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Palin bounce...

…is over. The problem isn’t Sarah. In fact, she’s already helped put people to work and she isn’t even elected. Tina Fay can thank Palin for full time work.

Like I said, Palin isn’t the problem. It’s John McCain. He has been riding high for the last couple of weeks and now he comes up with a solution to the financial mess.

And that solution sounds like tired, old Washington at work. Just yesterday here’s what he said: “We're going to need a '9/11 Commission' to find out what happened and what needs to be fixed.”

Federal commissions fill a need, but it apparently isn’t to solve a problem. Sure you parade a bunch of experts up there and the politicians get to take jabs at them. Then the politicians have ample time to pontificate.

Perhaps elected officials like them because they get to ask the questions. After a long, hard campaign of difficult questions by reporters, finally they get their turn on the pecking order.

They subpoena some mid-level banking sap and grill him for three hours, making sure that their questions point the problem away from Washington. Then they have all the time they want to make comments about the answers. And it’s all on the record.

After all the CYA by elected officials nothing really gets done, except the public sees all sorts of press coverage of the hearings and we think something positive is happening in government.

It’s funny that McCain should invoke the 9/11 Commission as the model for fixing the problem. Here we are seven years after that dreadful day, and what do we have to show for it? The 9/11 Commission had some recommendations. How are we doing?

Controlling Visas – US-VISIT is a total disaster. We’ve spent a BILLION DOLLARS to create an automated way to track people entering and leaving the country. And it doesn’t work. (Newt and Malkin were right; FedEx can track two million packages around the world every day, but government can’t track visas.) And US-VISIT only keeps score; it does nothing to enforce the law when visa violators are caught.

Border Security – Still bad. We still have vast areas on both borders where heavy equipment can cross into the US. And human traffic still gets through. And the 700 miles of fence by the end of the year? Sorry, we ran out of money. We'll be lucky to have 400 miles, and virtual fence towers that are defective.

Inter-governmental Cooperation – Homeland Security, the IRS, and Social Security are still fighting.

Local Police – There is a two-year backlog of local agencies who want 287(g) training. The federal answer is that no one is getting the program unless they are at the county or state level.

This can’t possibly be the sort of solution to the financial crisis John McCain had in mind. If so, he isn’t shaking things up in Washington at all.

On the other hand Obama just talks. He points the finger at Bush and McCain. But if you want to watch Barack squirm, just ask him this question: “Since part of the financial crisis is the result of loans to unqualified borrowers, would you support a return to lending practices based on the ability to repay the loan?”

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