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Congress To The Banks: Feh!

Why'd Obama spend so much time selling the bank bailout last night? Partly it's that, as Jonathan Cohn says, it inspires deep skepticism, if not outright hostility, among voters. But perhaps more to the point, that skepticism has Congress absolutely frantic.

Yesterday afternoon I spoke to a senior Democratic aide in the Senate who repeatedly emphasized that, the way things stand now, it would be almost impossible to get another cent for the banks. Congress has "bailout fatigue," the aide said. "I think that accurately reflects the view of the chairman of the [Senate] banking committee, the chairman of House banking, of many within the caucus."

So what accounts for the refusal to approve more money? "People went home for [President's Day] recess and got an earful," the aide said. "The Republicans did a good job stirring up opposition to more bailouts."   

All of which is a huge problem, given that the bailout is likely to require "more [money] than we’ve already set aside," as Obama revealed last night. Here's hoping he began to reverse the tide. (For what it's worth, I'll have more on this in my piece for the magazine this week.)

--Noam Scheiber