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Shields, Brooks Weigh in on the Week’s Dramatic Bailout Debate

It was a devastating week on Wall Street and a contentious one in Congress as politicians battled over bailout proposals. With the presidential candidates heading to the first debate, political analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks reflect on the developments.

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    And to the analysis of Shields and Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks.

    And, David, John McCain said he wouldn't debate until there was a deal. There's no deal, and there is a debate.

  • DAVID BROOKS, Columnist, New York Times:

    That's right. Well, sometimes politicians are not literal. They're metaphorical.

    You know, they're going to have a deal. I spoke to a bunch of House Republicans today. And like Mike Pence, they're against the Paulson plan.

    But I think they acknowledge that, at the end of the day, probably by Sunday night, there's going to be a deal.

    They're trapped by a bunch of different forces. There is the popular opinion, which is coming in calls 100-to-1 against the plan to congressional offices. There's fears fed by Bernanke — and legitimate fears — that the whole system is going to fall down.

    And then there's the incompetence fear, the idea that this plan will not do what it's going to do, that people don't understand how the Paulson plan or the Paulson-Dodd plan is going to work.

    So they've got these three forces they're negotiating. And House Republicans are very confident that the people are with them, but they do not want to be held responsible for this economy by holding up the whole plan.

    So they're using this public opinion as leverage. But at the end of the day, they will sign onto a plan, and I think we'll get something Sunday or Monday.


    Do you share your partner's optimism?

  • MARK SHIELDS, Syndicated Columnist:

    I think they will by Sunday or Monday. I do agree that the House Republicans' position in opposing the Paulson, House and Senate Democrats', administration, White House, House Democrats' plan is the most politically popular. There's no question about it.

    There's a distrust, a skepticism, and a perception that Main Street is bailing out Wall Street and that this is unfair, and also serious questions about whether it will work.

    At the same time, I think that, when you ask about John McCain, I mean, John McCain has traveled a rather interesting odyssey in the last nine days, from, "The fundamentals are strong," to let's appoint a 9/11 Commission on the economy, to let's fire the Republican chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and replace him with a Democratic attorney general of New York, to let's get more aggressive in our regulation of the private financial sector, which had not been his — he's been for more extensive regulation of the public financial sector, in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but not of the private sector — to then calling that this is such a cosmic, urgent problem that we had to call off the debate.

    And, you know, so it's rather remarkable. And I think it was funny to see John McCain pairing up with the House Republicans, who probably have less in common with John McCain than any of the other entities — the Senate Republicans, Senate Democrats, House Democrats — have opposed most of his major initiatives.

    But it's been a fascinating trip. But I agree with David that there will be — there should be an agreement and a vote on Sunday or Monday.

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