Bailout Bill Is A Threat to Democracy

At least in its original form, the $700 billion bailout bill was unconstitutional because it gave the Treasury Secretary boundless discretion to buy, or not buy, bad loans at whatever suited his whims, without providing for judicial review.  More recent versions of the financial-system bailout bill may have added a little bit of judicial oversight (rendered almost meaningless by virtue of the minimal, vague, and conflicting statutory criteria they provide), but they have not changed the fact that the bill remains politically dangerous.

If the bailout bill passes (as seems likely), businesses seeking to sell their bad loans will have a powerful incentive to ingratiate themselves with whoever is president, and whoever is the Treasury Secretary, by making political donations and engaging in influence-peddling.  Expect vast political donations to the President and his party from banks and lenders if the bailout bill passes, effectively drowning out the voices of the American people. 

The incoming administration may be able to use it as a form of political patronage, effectively operating as a political slush fund for favored lenders.  During the New Deal, the government used welfare programs to essentially buy votes in swing states.  As a result, even though the U.S. economy recovered more slowly from the Great Depression than from prior sharp recessions, and even though it recovered more slowly than the economies of other Western countries which rejected big-government responses to the Depression (like Great Britain, where public employee salaries were cut), the incumbent administration was reelected an unprecedented four times.  

The same danger of vote-buying and veiled political extortion is present is an acute form in the financial system bailout bill that is likely to be enacted by Congress in some form.