There’s been an alternative theory afoot in recent days which holds that Tim Geithner’s ill-received bank rescue plan wasn’t so much a plan as a holding pattern; and that the ‘stress test’ for banks may be the back door through which we move toward some sort of nationalization of at least some of the big banks. Nouriel Roubini suggested something like this just after Geithner’s speech. And now it seems that Obama too is leaving himself a decent amount of semantic and policy wiggle room to pursue such an approach.
Last week Ron Brownstein published an article based on an interview he and four other columnists were granted with President Obama. And now E.J.Dionne has published a detailed transcript of just what Obama said on the issue of nationalization.
The upshot is that Obama would not rule out Swedish model nationalization, though he clearly wants to avoid it. And the opposition to nationalization which Obama made clear early last week seems, in this interview, to be at least in part a matter of semantics, or subject to enough subsequent revision and experimentation as to bring us to the same end result. But this is a case where reading the precise words he used is key.
Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.