The timing could not have been worse for the failure yesterday of the financial bailout package in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The House presently is in brief recess. It will take at least a couple days until the administration and congressional leaders of both parties can patch together a replacement package and round up votes to pass it. Watch global stock and credit markets during the day today. It would be a surprise if they did anything but extend yesterday's performance.
I had half expected President Bush to declare a market holiday, for today and tomorrow, along the lines of President Franklin Roosevelt's declaration of a bank holiday in a similar situation during the Depression. Perhaps such a declaration will still be forthcoming.
You can understand the thinking of the House members who voted down the package. They were reflecting the frustration, anger, and "get even" mentality of constituents who were expressing outrage at the idea of the bailout. But there are times when elected officials need to take necessary if uncomfortable votes, and this was one of them. Among those in our nearby neighborhood who did not step up were Reps. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, and Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island. (Reichert's Democratic challenger, Darcy Burner, also said she would have voted "no.")
It is possible that the same package, or one almost identical, will be resubmitted Thursday for a fresh vote, or that the Senate, rather than the House, will vote first. There is a strong likelihood that legislation will be passed before the weekend. But before then, huge new financial damage could be done.
Among the most uncomfortable Americans at present are Sen. Joe Biden and Gov. Sarah Palin, as they contemplate what they will say about the issue in their Thursday night vice-presidential debate. Their top-of-ticket running mates have not distinguished themselves during the crisis.