Capitol Hillbillies

Sen. Ted Stevens guilty on all counts

Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens was convicted of seven corruption charges Monday in a trial that threatened to end the 40-year career of Alaska’s political patriarch in disgrace.

The verdict, coming barely a week before Election Day, increased Stevens’ difficulty in winning what already was a difficult race against Democratic challenger Mark Begich. Democrats hope to seize the once reliably Republican seat as part of their bid for a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

If at first, you don’t succeed

Congress and the Bush administration are beginning to agree on the idea of a second stimulus package but right now that’s as far as the agreement goes.

Congressional Democrats have been pushing for a second round of stimulus — although now it’s called "economic recovery" because "stimulus" sounds so wasteful. They got a big boost this week when Fed chairman Ben Bernanke endorsed the idea but in carefully couched terms — "consideration of a fiscal package by the Congress at this juncture seems appropriate."

The bailout thing better work

If there were any doubts the House would pass the revised $700 billion bailout package, they were quickly resolved when the unemployment figures for September came out in advance of the vote.

The rate was unchanged at 6.1 percent but that masked the real damage to the economy — a loss of 159,000 jobs last month, the most in five years and far more than analysts expected. It was the ninth straight month that the economy shed jobs, bringing the total for the year to 760,000, a number the Associated Press called "staggering."

Bailout bill passes, Bush signs

Bloated with pork, the massive $700 billion bailout bill passed the House Friday and President Bush immediately signed the legislation into law, turning to taxpayers to save government and Wall Street from themselves.

The pork added at least $120 to the final tab and victory from the same House that turned it down earlier in the week proved that all it takes is arm twisting, promises and outright bribes to turn controversial legislation into law.

When all else fails, try bribery

On Capitol Hill, they call it "sweetening the pot." Out in the real world, it’s called bribery.

Whatever you call it, proponents of the $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, banks and the financial industry are loading up the legislation with pork, inducements and favors for members of Congress in exchange for the votes needed to pass the bill when it hits the floor of the House of Representative on Friday.

At last count, the bribes will add at least $120 billion to the cost of the bailout.

The failure heard ’round the world

America’s rudderless ships of state sailed themselves onto the shoals of shallow governance Monday. The wreckage was a failure heard — and felt — ’round the world.

The House of Representatives’228-205 rejection of a bipartisan plan to rescue the shattered U.S. economy was a sudden, simultaneous failure of not just one, but three of our democracy’s ships of state: Leadership, Follow-ship, and Citizenship.

The least bad alternative

The 133 Republicans and 95 Democrats who voted down the $700 billion bailout of the credit markets also succeeded in wiping out $1.2 trillion in shareholder value on U.S. markets as Wall Street had its worst day since the crash of 1987. Not bad for a few minutes work.

Bush, Congress go back to drawing board

Top congressional and White House officials, stunned when the House rejected a massive rescue plan for the nation’s economy, scrambled to structure a new bailout proposal that would attract reluctant lawmakers and still soothe the unnerved financial markets.

"Doing nothing is not an option," House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., said after seeing the $700 billion emergency package for the nation’s financial systems fail 228-205 on Monday.

House votes down financial rescue plan

The House on Monday defeated a $700 billion emergency rescue for the nation’s financial system, ignoring urgent warnings from President Bush and congressional leaders of both parties that the economy could nosedive into recession without it

Stocks plummeted on Wall Street even before the 228-205 vote to reject the bill was announced on the House floor.

Tactics change in Stevens trial

Federal prosecutors changed their plans and said they would not put their star witness on the stand Monday in the corruption case against Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska.

Instead, the Justice Department said it plans to continue the parade of witnesses from oil pipeline company VECO Corp., which allegedly provided more than $250,000 in free renovations on the senator’s home.