Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Bulwark of Democracy

In my head, I seem to remember the phrase "Bureaucracy is the bulwark of Democracy" appearing in one of the Federalist Papers. I can't find the damn quotation, so now I'm not sure that Hamilton said anything of the sort. But I do remember him expanding on the point that the advantage of a two-house government is that it acts as a brake on the executive branch--because government swept up by passion loses its head and acts ineffectively.

At any rate, despite that setback, my point remains. And thus, I am nervous about the AIG Bonus Clawback bill. We learned the lesson when the PATRIOT Act went through: not enough time to stop and reflect. And how did this AIG bonus thing come to pass? Because we didn't read TARP closely enough. No public reflection, no examination of the consequences, and you have a bad bill. TARP was a badly written act. So was PATRIOT Act.

How is this bill actually going to take effect? I don't know. We haven't had time to really look at the bill. And it's Senate Republicans, of all people, who are going to be upholding that view in the Senate. Hopefully that means it won't pass. Maybe it's the right policy; my gut says it's not. But I won't get the chance to find out until the bill is passed. And that's not the way it should go.