Hank and Ben: Time to Play Offense

Treasury and Fed need to start playing offense, says Leonhardt
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 17, 2008 7:15 AM CDT
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, left, whispers to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 15, 2008.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
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(Newser) – If you'd told economists 18 months ago what lay ahead in the financial industry, predictions for the American economy would be dire. The fact that things aren't totally awful—we still haven't entered into a recession—is testament to the good defense of Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke. What they aren't doing, writes David Leonhardt in the New York Times, is fixing the underlying problems that led to Lehman's failure and AIG's bailout.

For Leonhardt, the current crisis resembles America's bailout of Chrysler in 1979—although the government saved the company, it did nothing to stem Detroit's decline. Paulson and Bernanke need to play offense and start paying attention to what got us here: "a stagnation of incomes, an explosion of debt and a decidedly outdated, and limp, approach to government oversight."