THE BASIS POINT

bTunes Dedication to Hank Paulson: I Will Not Apologize by The Roots

On this last day of the current administration, we have a special bTunes dedication for outgoing Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. It comes after massive heat he’s taken for his handling of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The song is I Will Not Apologize by The Roots, off their eighth album Rising Down which came out last April and is aptly named for the U.S. economic situation. It’s dedicated to Paulson because he said just this on November 12 in response to his critics.

This song is not a party anthem, but it’s definitely the funky lyrical highlight of an otherwise dark album, and is sure to get you in the zone on your headphones or in the car. The chorus, sung by conscious hip hop legend Talib Kweli, gets to the roots of the TARP’s brief history and Paulson’s reasons for creating and adapting it. Below is the chorus and more explanation of the TARP and Paulson’s reasons for being unapologetic.

The Roots: I Will Not Apologize
[iTunes] [Amazon MP3]

TARP was proposed September 19 as a $700b plan to buy toxic assets from banks. It was rushed through the House and Senate, signed into law October 3, and then by October 8, Paulson decided direct capital injections into banks were faster than handpicking bad assets to buy.

This was all happening in the weeks that Fannie, Freddie, Lehman, Merrill, AIG, Goldman, and Morgan were all either failing or teetering. Global financial markets were quite literally on the verge of collapsing.

As we said at the time: “just like an emergency room team changes constantly to adapt to the needs of sick or dying patients, these Treasury strategy changes are standard in any crisis.” That’s when Paulson defended this triage approach:

“I will never apologize for changing a strategy or an approach if the facts change.

…First and foremost, because the system remains fragile, we must continue to stand ready to prevent systemic failures. That is the basis for Monday’s action to purchase preferred shares in AIG.”

So to us, that’s his lasting legacy, for better or worse. But legacies are only as good as the stories that are told, and the stories are only as good as the actual facts. When Paulson is judged in the future, most of the facts will be lost to chatter and partisan positioning. Which is why the chorus of our bTunes dedication to Paulson is so relevant—especially line two, because so few who judge actually understand what’s going on as we work through this crisis:

(I will not apologize) I will not apologize
This is for all of my peoples who understand and truly recognize
Some won’t get it for that I won’t apologize
(I will not apologize) I will not apologize

The Roots: I Will Not Apologize
[iTunes] [Amazon MP3]