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A Phrase You Will Be Hearing for a Long, Long Time

8:45 AM, Sep 23, 2008 • By RICHARD STARR
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In a discussion of panicked investors pulling money out of 401(k) accounts, and subjecting themselves to the 10 percent penalty attendant on such early withdrawals, the Wall Street Journal this morning quotes Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin, who would like to see Congress eliminate this penalty:

Mr. Galvin said relief for individual investors is especially appropriate given the $700 billion bailout fund being proposed to aid financial institutions in the crisis. "If we are providing amnesty to financial services," then "we ought to provide a few breaks to these people."

It used to be the case that ambitious politicians prefaced every argument with the phrase, "If we can put a man on the moon . . . " For years--perhaps decades--to come, they will use some variation on the formula above: "If we can bail out Wall Street to the tune of $700 billion . . . " Trust me, you're going to be hearing this a lot.