At the New York Times Economix blog, economist Nancy Folbre of the University of Massachusetts writes:
The libertarian Cato Institute often emphasizes the issue of corporate welfare, but it’s remained remarkably quiet so far on the topic of bailouts.
Since she linked to one of our papers on corporate welfare, we assume she's visited our site. How, then, could she get such an impression? Cato scholars have been deploring bailouts since last September. (Actually, since the Chrysler bailout of 1979, but we'll skip forward to the recent avalanche of Bush-Obama bailouts.) Just recently, for instance, in -- ahem -- the New York Times, senior fellow William Poole implored, "Stop the Bailouts." I wonder if our commentaries started with my blog post "Bailout Nation?" last September 8? Or maybe with Thomas Humphrey and Richard Timberlake's "The Imperial Fed," deploring the Federal Reserve's help for Bear Stearns, on April 14 of last year?
Cato scholars appeared on more than 90 radio and television programs to criticize the bailouts during the last quarter of 2008. Here’s a video compilation of some of those appearances.
Folbre complains that some people seem more concerned about welfare -- TANF, in the latest federal acronym -- than about welfare for bankers -- TARP. Google says that there are 138 references to TANF over the past 13 years or so on the Cato website, and 231 references to TARP in the past few months.
Now she has a legitimate point. Welfare for the rich is at least as bad as welfare for the poor. And as much as welfare for the poor has cost taxpayers, the new welfare for banks, insurance companies, mortgage companies, and automobile industries is costing us more. Samuel Brittan of the Financial Times has written that "reassignment," an economic policy that changes individuals' ranking in the hierarchy of incomes, is far more offensive than a policy of redistribution, which in his idealized vision would merely raise the incomes of the poorest members of society. By that standard, taxing some businesses and individuals to subsidize the high incomes of others is certainly offensive. Of course, Brittan underemphasized the harm done by welfare to people who become trapped in dependency. But there's good reason to oppose both TANF and TARP, and Cato scholars have done both.
Lest the good work of Cato's New Media Manager Chris Moody go under-utilized, here's a probably incomplete guide to Cato scholars' comments on the bailouts of the past few months. (Note that it doesn't include blog posts, of which there have been many.) Quiet? I don't think so:
September 9, 2008, "Fannie/Freddie Bailout Baloney," Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr., New York Post.
September 18, 2008, "Why Bailouts Scare Stocks," Alan Reynolds, New York Post.
September 17, 2008, "Bailout-Mania," Jagadeesh Gokhale and Kent Smetters, Forbes.com.
October 1, 2008, "The Bailout's Essential Brazenness," Jay Cochran, Cato.org.
October 3, 2008, “The Big Bailout – What’s Next?” Warren Coats, Cato.org
October 13, 2008, "Should Taxpayers Fund the American Dream?," Daniel J. Mitchell, Los Angeles Times.
October 20, 2008, "Is the Bailout Constitutional?," Robert A. Levy, Legal Times.
November 11, 2008, "There's Nothing Wrong with a "Big Two"," Daniel J. Ikenson, New York Daily News.
November 21, 2008, "Don't Bail Out the Big Three," Daniel J. Ikenson, The American.
November 5, 2008, "Is it Constitutional?," Richard W. Rahn, Washington Times.
December 14, 2008, "Consequences of the Bailout," Richard W. Rahn, Washington Times.
December 5, 2008, "Bail Out Car Buyers?," Daniel J. Ikenson, Los Angeles Times.
December 3, 2008, "Big Three Ask for Money — Again," Daniel J. Ikenson, Los Angeles Times.
December 10, 2008, “Dissecting the Bailout Plan,” Alan Reynolds, Wall Street Journal.
January 14, 2009, "Bailing out the States," Michael New, Washington Times.
February 28, 2009, "Stop the Bailouts," William Poole, The New York Times.
"Bailout or Bankruptcy?," by Jeffrey A. Miron (Cato Journal, Winter 2009)
"Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae: An Exit Strategy for the Taxpayer," by Arnold Kling (September 8, 2008)
"Financial Crisis and Public Policy," by Jagadeesh Gokhale (March 23, 2009)
"Bright Lines and Bailouts: To Bail or Not To Bail, That Is the Question," by Vern McKinley and Gary Gegenheimer (April 20, 2009)
On Television and Radio:
Dan Ikenson discusses auto bailout
September 30, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the failed bailout on NPR Affiliate KPCC's "The Patt Morrison Show"
September 29, 2008 Peter Van Doren discusses government bailouts on WTTG FOX 5.
September 29, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the failed bailout on NPR Affiliate KPCC's "The Patt Morrison Show"
September 26, 2008 Jagadeesh Gokhale discusses the bailout on BNN (CANADA)
September 26, 2008 Steve H. Hanke discusses the bailout on BBC Radio's "Have Your Say"
September 25, 2008 Patrick Basham discusses the bailout on Radio America's "The Michael Reagan Show"
September 24, 2008 William A. Niskanen discusses government bailouts on WUSA 9
September 24, 2008 William Poole discusses government bailouts on NPR DC Affiliate WAMU's "The Diane Rehm Show"
September 23, 2008 William A. Niskanen discusses government bailouts on CNBC's "Closing Bell"
September 23, 2008Bert Ely discusses government bailouts on WOR's "The John Gambling Show"
September 22, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses government bailouts on the CBS "Early Show"
September 22, 2008 William Poole discusses government bailouts on Bloomberg Live.
September 22, 2008 William A. Niskanen discusses government bailouts of financial institutions on Bloomberg TV
September 22, 2008 Steve H. Hanke discusses government bailouts of financial institutions on Bloomberg Radio's "On the Money"
September 19, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses government bailouts on Federal News Radio
September 18, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the AIG bailout on KTAR's "Ankarlo Mornings"
September 17, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the AIG bailout on WTTG FOX 5
September 17, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the AIG bailout on FOX's "America's Election HQ"
September 10, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses a proposed bailout for the auto industry on Marketplace Radio.
October 24, 2008 Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. discusses the fallout of the bailout on FOX Business Network's "Cavuto"
October 15, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the bailout on Federal News Radio
October 14, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the financial crisis on CNN's "American Morning"
October 14, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the banking crisis on BBC World
October 14, 2008 Gerald P. O'Driscoll Jr. discusses the banking crisis on WBAL Radio. (Baltimore, MD)
October 13, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the financial crisis on the FOX Business Network
October 9, 2008 Jim Powell discusses the economy on FOX Business
October 9, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the current treasury plan on Reuters TV.
October 9, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the bailout on the WIBA's "Upfront w/Vicki McKenna" (Madison, WI)
October 2, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the bailout bill on WRVA's "Morning Show" (West Virginia)
October 1, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the bailout plan on CNBC's "On the Money."
October 1, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the bailout plan on CNBC's "Power Lunch"
October 1, 2008 William Poole discusses the bailout on KMOX's "The Charlie Brennan Show" (St. Louis, MO)
October 1, 2008 Daniel J. Mitchell discusses the failed bailout on WTOP Radio (Washington, D.C.)