So how are things going with the $810 billion bailout bill that Hank Paulson just had to have? Paulson pushed it by explaining that if it didn't pass -- and soon -- "heaven help us all." No doubt this religious appeal worked wonders in the Oval Office. But in the real world, not so much.
How so? Since October 3, when the bill passed, the NYSE index has lost $3.8 trillion worth of value -- declining 27% from 7,088 to 5,196. Did heaven help us when Bush signed the bill? I have no idea, but I am sure that anyone who owned stock is much much poorer.
But the poverty is not just the kind that makes it harder to retire or pay your children's college tuition, it's also the poverty of lost confidence in our government. That's because not only was the $810 bailout bill not the right cure for what ails the economy and the markets, the actual use of the money is completely different than what Paulson demanded urgently of Congress.