It’s populist poppycock to argue that it was only the big banks that benefited from this wide-ranging rescue effort, and that they alone should be responsible for paying the bill.

I’ll take this one. We all benefited from being rescued from financial apocalypse, but Wall Street caused the crisis (with an assist from (de)regulators). And TARP is hardly the only bailout they triggered. And it would be great if just once someone would answer the question of why homeowners en masse spontaneously went from responsible, hard-workin’ Amurricans to clueless idiots beginning around 2002.

And this is disingenuous:

He framed the fee as a repayment to the taxpayers for losses sustained under the Treasury’s rescue program, conveniently overlooking the fact that virtually all of the loss is likely to come from two bankrupt auto companies, an insolvent insurer and two government-sponsored mortgage finance companies.

That insolvent insurer would be AIG. You know, the one that the government used as a conduit for its backdoor bailout of Wall Street.

The more intellectually honest approach would have been for the president to avoid the questions of cost and culpability and support the idea of a small tax on every financial transaction.

“Avoid the questions of… culpability.” That’s just a tremendous position for a business journalist to take. Revealing, no?

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.