This week’s debt ceiling/shutdown battle found House Speaker John Boehner tasked as usual to round up votes from his fellow Republicans.
A new book by former colleague Peter Baker — he now works for a New York newspaper — recalls how President George W. Bush, faced with the financial crash in late 2008, pushed through his Troubled Asset Relief Program, giving hundreds of billions of dollars to shore up a Wall Street system that had caused the crisis in the first place.
As Baker recounts in “Days of Fire,” Bush publicly said it was the only way to avert another Great Depression. But in private, he bemoaned the irony of a conservative free-market capitalist Republican sponsoring the biggest government intervention in the economy of his lifetime.
“Our people are going to hate us for this,” he told aides at one point.
Meeting in the Oval Office in September 2008, he implored Boehner, then the House Republican minority leader, to deliver the votes to pass the program. “We need to get there,” Bush said.
“I’m trying,” Boehner replied, “I don’t have the support.”
Deja vu all over again.