The way Tim Geithner has structured the banking plan, the Obama administration will, sooner or later, almost certainly be facing another AIG bonuses-type of outrage. For example, Dean Baker told me that his biggest fear is that some sleazy character will make a fortune off the leverage given by the government, or that a bank will arrange an insider deal under which a front buys its assets at an inflated price, leaving the government with a big loss.
If this happens, I can already hear the cries of the faux populists in the Republican Party, those same folks who created this crisis with their opposition to regulatory oversight of Wall Street. If they were still in charge, we'd be having one of these kinds of scandals every week. But they will be full of howling indignation that Obama let this happen.
Those of us who are opposing this bank plan, in part because we are worried of just these kinds of scandals described above, will need to restrain ourselves from doing too much I-told-you-so-ing, because we will need to be helping to save the Obama team from themselves. We need to be ready, though, to step into the moment with our own very aggressive plan to put the banks into receivership and break them up. No matter how populist Republicans will want to pretend they are, they will never be willing to actually do something that progressive. If Obama is willing to go there, and do it decisively, it will help Obama to get over all the recriminations and saber-rattling that inevitably happens in such a moment.
I very much wish that Obama was moving bolder and more progressive in dealing with the banking crisis. To paraphrase a friend, I feel like he is giving mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to a system that needs to die. But if we are to get through the problems that will almost inevitably come from the Obama/Geithner plan, those of us who want to save Obama's agenda need to be ready with a strategy to turn things around ASAP when another scandal flares.