Hit & Run

Why The Dems Didn't Do It

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Yesterday we posted Rep. Jeff Flake's reasons for opposing the bailout bill, but the big mystery on the floor was why so many Democrats went against Pelosi. Most members are pointing me to their statements on the bill, which reveal them, for the most part, as ready for a deal if the bill is rewritten with muscular taxpayer protections and a whip hand over Paulson. A sample of the different takes…

Donna Edwards, a Maryland Democrat elected this year (in a primary then a special election) on the backs of bloggers and the SEIU. One of the majority of black caucus members who couldn't go back home and argue for welfare for Wall Street.

This bill was vague and contained more dressing than substance for working Americans. It gave the Secretary of the Treasury unparalleled purchasing power of any financial instrument without adequate, enforceable oversight. There were no guidelines in this bill directing the Secretary as to how or which troubled assets to buy. The bill did not address how or when the government would sell the purchased assets back in the market. Despite the positive provisions of this bill that help tenants, the provisions to help homeowners were not mandatory; they were discretionary. Finally, the Economic Stimulus bill which passed the House and included real benefits to working Americans such as extending unemployment benefits, providing additional food stamp assistance, and investing in infrastructure to create good-paying jobs is effectively dead.

Tom Udall, a New Mexico Democrat who's running for Senate (and expected to win).

Any plan that puts taxpayer money at risk must ensure that taxpayers get paid back before shareholders, bondholders or executives—so that corporate CEOs do not get a golden parachute while taxpayers are left to pay the bill.

Additionally, Congress should act further to keep Americans in their homes by addressing the crisis in the mortgage industry as well as the one in the financial sector.  Any economic package that allows tens of thousands of Americans to lose their homes is simply inadequate.

Dennis Kucinich, who is Dennis Kucinich, and will vote against any bailout, no matter what's in it.

Why aren't we helping homeowners directly with their debt burden?  Why aren't we helping American families faced with bankruptcy.  Why aren't we reducing debt for Main Street instead of Wall Street?  Isn't it time for fundamental change in our debt based monetary system, so we can free ourselves from the manipulation of the Federal Reserve and the banks?  Is this the United States Congress or the board of directors of Goldman Sachs?  Wall Street is a place of bears and bulls.  It is not smart to force taxpayers to dance with bears or to follow closely behind the bulls.

Another hint about the politics came from the RNC, which cut an ad linking Obama to the bailout ("he wants to spend another $1 trillion of your money"). The ad was released before the vote, when Republicans assumed the bailout bill would pass.