Political Capital with John Harwood

Politicians Getting A "Laugh" At Wall Street's Expense?

CNBC.com photo composite

That sound you hear around the nation's capital is the political class, chortling. They're amused (rather than outraged) by the spectacle of so many on Wall Street extended their hands, palms up, seeking financial help from Washington.

Yes, the same Masters of the Universe who typically ooze contempt for politicians are desperate for Washington to cover their bad bets in the form of Federal loan guarantees and easy money courtesy of the central bank. The same people who routinely mock the "pork" dispensed by elected officials are reaching for a little themselves now that the consequences of their decisions are staring them in the face like ghosts.

Scratch that--they're reaching for a huge slab that makes the railroad museums and bridges to nowhere look like small potatoes.

That's not to say that pols oppose intervention by the Bush administration and Federal Reserve to prevent a meltdown by large financial institution. Politicians are too practical for that, since they know such a meltdown could spin way out of control. A few on the right will insist on the purest reliance on market forces, and a few on the left will wail about bailouts for Bear Stearns at the expense of average homeowners. But only a few.

But they're certainly savoring the irony of this moment.

Bailout Backlash?

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