“What’s your take on this bailout package, Congresswoman Kang?”
“While it’s not everything we desire, but it’s probably the best compromise we could achieve at this time. Even the House Republicans are coming around to that point of view.”
The reporter from CNN added, “That’s pretty charitable, coming from someone who once said if she were on the banking committee, she’d make it mandatory for each leading Wall Street financier to take lie detector tests just like random drug testing.”
There was a ripple of charged laughter that gave Kang a few seconds to come up with her rejoinder. “At the time my opponent blasted me for sounding like Torquemada. He even tried to sneak in a uncalled-for reference to a Dragon Lady.” Kang colored her tone with the right mixture of indignation as she continued, modulating her voice back to its normal register.
“As it turns out, it seems I might have been too restrained in that suggestion.” More laughter.
“Aren’t the Democrats as much to blame for this mess, as Senator Obama has termed it, as the GOP?” another reporter asked. Kang had suddenly reappeared on the Hill last Monday as the financial crisis consumed headlines in all media. She immediately was able to immerse herself in the various caucuses taking place on both sides of the aisle to hammer at the proposal initially put forward by Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson. And thereby avoid questions, if not speculation among the punditry, as to her recent absence.
“I don’t let people like Robert Rubin or President Clinton off the hook,” Kang began, “but the fact remains that the American people rightly, by a two-to-one margin, lays this debacle at the feet of the Republicans.” She gestured in a wide swath. “The middle class has taken it in the shorts these past eight years, if you’ll allow me to use the colloquialism. Since President Bush has been in office, nearly 6 million taxpayers have slipped into poverty, median family income for working Americans has gone down by some $2,000, more than 7 million of our citizens have lost their health insurance, more than 4 million have lost pensions, and so on, with foreclosures at an all-time high.
“At the same time, the brokers and short-sellers, the speculators and shareholders did better than all right in this money jungle they constructed with little oversight or paper-thin regulation–with no regulation that wasn’t written without a lobbyist’s hand guiding the lawmaker’s pen.”
“Does this mean there’s some truth in the rumor that’s been floating around since your unexplained absence, that you’re going to bolt your party in favor of a third one?” a reporter she recognized from the Washington Post asked. Kang pointed at her. “It means that we can’t continue privatizing gains and socializing losses. John Thane, the chairman of Merrill Lynch, who’s been on the job less than a year, got a signing bonus of $15 million. Before him at Merrill, Stan O’Neal, retired with something like $161 million worth of goodies. That’s a hell of a golden parachute.”