THE PAULSON PLAN:
The financial-reform plan announced by Treasury Secretary
is better understood as Wall Street’s pitiful, lame-duck defense against genuine reform. The confusing bells and whistles do not conceal Paulson’s real purpose: to blame the disaster on disorganized government regulators and do little or nothing to restore strong prudential regulation.
The media are making a big fuss, but Bush’s ideas for reform are no more credible than
‘s promise of “a chicken in every pot.” The real reform debate can’t start until we have a new President and Congress. Meanwhile, Paulson, a son of
, seeks to protect fellow club members with distracting proposals. Let the Federal Reserve become the “supercop” of Wall Street. That’s a hoot. The Fed is a principal culprit–the bankers’ friend–that looked the other way, then showered billions on the failing financiers. What’s disturbing is that the Democrats seem disposed to go along. They will be sorry if they do. Putting the Federal Reserve in charge is not reform but surrender. — WILLIAM GREIDER
BACHELET AND THE PILL:
Chilean Constitutional Tribunal
is set to rule on a 2007 lawsuit brought by thirty-six conservative legislators to block President
‘s decision to distribute emergency-contraception pills to women of all income levels. In a Catholic country where abortion is illegal, Bachelet’s opponents have seized on the issue to undermine Chile’s first female executive.
Three giant pharmacy chains–Salcobrand, Farmacias Ahumada and Cruz Verde–initially refused to carry the pill, incurring heavy fines from the government. Two eventually backed down (the third, Salcobrand, is led by a devout
member), but not before launching a propaganda campaign against Bachelet and refusing to pay the fines. Anti-Bachelet municipal leaders sent back shipments of the pill that were to be distributed in public clinics, gaining much media attention for their defiance. And with a majority on the tribunal lined up against Bachelet, insiders predict it will ban the pill later this month.
If so, the decision will be another blow to poor women, who cannot afford to leave the country for abortions and must resort to the back-alley variety. It may also open up legal space to call into question Bachelet’s other progressive reforms, including her insistence on gender parity in the government. Grandstanding social conservatives will have their way, the pharmacies will get away with disobeying the law and Chilean women will pay the price. — ASHLEY STEINBERG