So where is Henry Paulson supposed to go from here? The stock market didn't like hearing the bad news from Capitol Hill, so if Paulson and his gang want to avoid the doomsday scenario they've been predicting, they need to switch to Plan B. Which is what, exactly?
Actually, my sources in the Treasury Department (of which I have many) tell me that Paulson has put together a number of options. Here are a few samples from the list:
A really, really fucking big bake sale. Paulson figures they may be able to use the old tried and true PTA stand-by to raise $700 billion, especially if they sell pies by the slice instead of whole.
State naming rights. Nobody's all that crazy about this one, but you have to imagine it would raise a lot of cash. I don't know, though. Chicago, Pepsi's Illinois just sounds clunky.
Buried treasure. This one's George Bush's idea. He claims he found a map to Bluebeard's Buried Gold when he was a kid. Some of his aides have hinted to the press that the map may actually be a place-mat from Long John Silver's.
Check-kiting. There have been those within the Treasury who think we should just write a bad check to cover the whole thing and then hope we get paid before anyone tries to cash it. It should be pointed out that that's kind of what got us in trouble in the first place.
Risky Business II. One of Paulson's undersecretaries is a big Tom Cruise fan and suggested that we might want to open up the White House to a group of high-priced call girls who could then give half their profits to shore up the economy.
Human pinatas. The caps on corporate executives' salaries was one of the more popular provisions of the bail-out package. A lot of people think they should take this several steps further and allow people to buy raffle tickets for the opportunity to tie one of these captains of industry up and beat the shit out of him with a baseball bat. I'd buy one.
They could, of course, try adding in some protection for consumers who were victims of predatory lenders, but that approach is a little too common-sensey to play in Washington.