I have been puzzled by the continued emphasis on a bailout by Congress and the President. I originally opposed any sort of bailout and that continues to be my position. However, that didn't keep me from thinking about it.
I realized that Congress had long ago established a procedure for bailouts. In fact it stems from laws originally enacted in the 16th century in England. That procedure, which should be well-known to all of our astute legislators is called, are you ready, Bankruptcy! Yes, that's it.
United States Bankruptcy Judge J. Michael Deasy wrote of the origin of Bankruptcy law US:
The lack of uniformity in bankruptcy and debt enforcement laws hindered business and commerce between the states. During the ratification of the United States Constitution it was said that "the power of establishing uniform laws of bankruptcy is so intimately connected with the regulation of commerce, and will prevent so many frauds where the parties or their property may lie or be removed into different states, that the expediency of it seems not likely to be drawn into question." (James Madison in Federalist No. 42). The United States Constitution as adopted in 1789 provides in Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 that the states granted to Congress the power "to establish . . . uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States."
However, until 1898 there was no bankruptcy law in continuous effect in the United States. The Congress enacted temporary bankruptcy statutes in 1800, 1841 and 1867 to deal with economic downturns. However, those laws were temporary measures and were repealed as soon as economic conditions stabilized. The Act of 1800 was repealed in 1803. The Act of 1841 was repealed in 1843 and the Act of 1867 only lasted until 1878.
These early laws only permitted merchants, traders, bankers and factors to be placed in bankruptcy proceedings. The Acts of 1800 and 1841 vested jurisdiction in the federal district courts. The district court judges were given the power to appoint commissioners or assignees to take charge of and liquidate a debtor’s property.
A permanent bankruptcy statute was not enacted until 1898."
Bankruptcy allows for immediate halt to demanding creditors and to bring things back into focus. It provides for breathing space in order to sort things out. In fact, over the centuries, it has proven fairly effective.
Why reinvent the wheel? Don't fix it if it isn't broken.
I guess Congress is too sophisticated to apply common sense and ordinary wisdom to solve an age-old problem.