It's a testament to the uncertainty of the world these days that we don't know whether to scold or praise House Republicans who balked at the $700 billion bailout package and sent Wall Street into another tailspin yesterday.
Lawmakers worked all weekend to craft a bailout package, and announced yesterday morning that an agreement had been reached. Except too many Republicans balked at the terms, and voted it down.
It's hard to blame them. We've said it before, and we'll say it even louder this time: The similarities between this bailout and the worst of subprime lending are too close for comfort. Like a questionable subprime loan, this bailout rewards the undeserving. Plus, the terms are vague, the outcome is questionable, and it feeds into the over-leveraged credit frenzy that got us here in the first place.
On the other hand, President Bush says that doing nothing is not an option, since it could lead to a collapse of Wall Street that would quickly find its way to Main Street. With credit freezing, businesses would go bust, people would lose jobs, more homes would be foreclosed.
Yet others say that's an exaggerated scenario - that things would certainly be bad for a while, but nothing as bad as a calamity.
What we don't understand: When Bush announced a bailout was near, the stock market went down. All day, it acted erratically. When the House vote was announced, the market plunged again. Before the market closed, it rallied, but then went down again. Could it be we are a little too obsessed with tracking the movements of an animal that reacts unpredicatably, erratically, and doesn't respond in logical ways to actions meant to soothe it? And we're not talking about John McCain.