In 1968, there was a sad little man on the popular TV show "Laugh In" who ran for president. His name was Pat Paulsen. He probably did not get any votes.
Whatever he policies are on Iraq, universal health, and the war on drugs, Henry Paulson, current Secretary of the Treasury, is as close to a president as the US has. George Bush spends most of his time overseas or cutting brush at his ranch. Paulson is dealing with the most immediate problem, and the most serious, the disintegrating economy. Since it may be the most pressing crisis to hit the US in thirty years, Paulson is at the wheel of events which could put the US into an economic and social catastrophe for several years.
So far, Paulson has done a better job than most could have expected. With his sidekick, Ben Bernanke of the Fed, he has not allowed a single major financial institution to fail. While the stock market has dropped some, it has not hit a tail-spin which could take it down several thousand points over a few brief weeks. His solutions to the mortgage crisis may not work, but they have a sound underpinning in logic.
Paulson and Bernanke have made sure that the market is awash in capital. Banks and brokerages are taking money from the Fed at an alarming rate, but it may require that to keep the financial system solvent. Paulson’s one major failing so far is that he has not gotten the banks to pass lower rates on to consumers and small business. If he can accomplish that, he may keep the economy from its deepest dip since 1973.
Paulson is more important to the US, at least over the next year, than anyone sitting as president or running. Whoever is elected will not be seated until January.
Paulson’s appointment may be temporary, but he should be put in charge.
Douglas A. McIntyre