How They Failed Us

When Washington tried to spend $700 billion to rescue Wall Street, voters revolted — then watched the markets plunge. Why the public's trust has vanished — and why it may not be coming back

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

A complex issue, a looming deadline, weak party leadership and excessive partisanship all fed Washington’s failure.

Trust us, said the voices of Washington.

First the Bush Administration: Trust us! We'll end gridlock in Washington. We have surpluses as far as the eye can see. We'll find the weapons of mass destruction; we'll be welcomed as liberators; the insurgency is in its last throes. We don't torture. Nobody thought the levees would break; FEMA is doing a heckuva job; we'll do what it takes to rebuild. The economy is fundamentally strong, and more tax cuts will make it stronger. And we can save Social Security by letting you invest your benefits in the market.

Then the Democrats: Trust...

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