Commentary: The economy's toast, thanks to timid Congress

Miami HeraldSeptember 30, 2008 

Such a fine day for an apocalypse. Gray skies. Rainstorms roiling across South Florida. Thunder claps that sent my dog cowering under the desk.

Then Congress, in a burst of populist self-destruction, sent me cowering like a canine.

My initial inclination was to suspend my column, go back to bed and stay there until someone fixes this mess. But I'd develop bed sores before we get leadership with the courage to buck the angry masses.

Maybe I can say the forbidden words, given that I'm not running for office.

We're cooked.

And what a spectacular act of self-immolation. The U.S. House of Representative, voting 228 to 205, killed the bill designed to resuscitate our moribund financial markets Monday. Frantic lobbying by the president and party leaders and the super duo from Treasury and the Federal Reserve failed to persuade enough members of Congress to buck popular opinion.

It didn't much matter that without massive government intervention, the nation's lending mechanisms might seize up like an old clunker's transmission. South Florida, with a real estate and construction industry utterly dependent on free-flowing lines of credit, might as well convert those half-empty condo towers to recession-proof enterprises. Think high-rise prostitution.

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