Stark opposes bailout bill
(Ed. note: With updated adds)
In case you missed it (as if!), the House of Representatives narrowly voted down a $700 billion package to bail out the nation’s financial system, the Associated Press is reporting. Our man in Washington, Pete Stark, voted against the bill. Here’s what he had to say:
“Madam Speaker, I rise today to oppose H.R. 3997, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. “President Bush tells us that we face unparalleled financial doom if this $700 billion bailout is not approved today. He and his Treasury Secretary – a former Wall Street fat cat – tell us that we have reached the point of “crisis.” That is a familiar line from this President. It sounds like the disastrous rush to war in Iraq and the subsequent stampede to enact the Patriot Act. As I opposed the Iraq War and the Patriot Act, I stand in opposition to his latest rush to judgment.
“We are not in a sudden crisis. It has been building over the past 8 years of the Bush Administration. Lax oversight of the financial industry ballooned into a house of cards.
“Homeowners throughout the country have seen property values decline as their mortgage rates adjusted upward. As a result, millions of people across our country have already lost their homes to foreclosure and many more are on the way.
“It is easy to blame consumers for purchasing homes they couldn’t afford. However, these consumers weren’t informed of the extreme risk they were assuming. Creative financiers invented a market for these risky mortgages and preyed upon consumers by peddling the American dream of homeownership to make that market flourish.
“While those were poor choices by consumers, they pale in comparison to the irresponsible bets made on Wall Street. These mortgages and their declining collateral values are the root of this financial crisis.
“We now face a choice. President Bush tells us we must inject $700 billion into this market to avoid a total meltdown. He and Secretary Paulson say it is the only answer. Many economists – who don’t have a financial stake in Wall Street or an 8-year record of bad decisions – tell us it isn’t the only choice. An option would be to assist homeowners with their mortgage payments. By making sure these mortgages remain viable, the market should stabilize.
“The bill before us today is basically the same three-page Wall Street give away first put forth by President Bush. The fig leaf adjustments are not enough to outweigh the fact that no one knows if this bill is what’s needed. I’m not willing to make a $700 billion gamble that President Bush is right after 8 years of seeing all that he’s done wrong.”
Stark has been all over the radio today; catch him here on the Ronn Owens show. KCBS has the rundown on which Bay Area Congressional leaders voted yes (Jerry McNerney, George Miller, Ellen Tauscher here in the East Bay), and which voted no (Barbara Lee); that’s here. (We’d get it ourselves, but the House’s website is so jammed we can’t get through.) The Dow, by the way, dropped 777 points today, the largest single-day drop ever, we’re reading.