Bailout dissenter talks about Senate bill
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Kai Ryssdal: After the House voted down the bailout package Monday, we had Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio on to ask him about his no vote. We’ve got him back on the line today to talk about the latest proposal. Congressman, good to speak with you again.
Peter DeFazio: Thanks, Kai. I appreciate the opportunity.
Ryssdal: First things first, sir. Is this new version of the bill going through the Senate gonna do it for you?
DeFazio: Absolutely not. It is the same Paulson plan, which, in short, is what he started with. He gets $700 billion, unbelievable discretion in how he spends it. He can pick winners and losers on Wall Street. He can even buy credit card debt. He could probably buy pawn shop notes. I don’t know, he can buy any kind of security under this authority. I don’t buy the premise. I don’t think it’s going to solve the underlying, I know it’s not going to solve the underlying problem with housing. And I don’t believe it goes directly to the bank liquidity issue, which could be addressed much more simply and at less cost and risk.
Ryssdal: Well, it has some of the things you were looking for. It’s got changes to the SEC rule in mark-to-market, it’s got a raise on the FDIC limits for bank insurance. What’s not there that you want to see?
DeFazio: How about re-authorize the certificates of net worth so that the regulators can work with banks that are in temporary trouble but long term are gonna be fine, to keep them from closing up shop. Permanently ban naked short selling. Put those things in and then say, let’s fence the money off, and say, let’s see if these measures work. I talked to the head of the Oregon bankers and she said, look, if you do mark-to-market, you do the FDIC insurance, my members don’t have any problems and we don’t need any of the $600, $700 billion.
Ryssdal: I know it’s not necessarily your job in the House leadership, but count noses for me on a possible House vote on this Senate bill.
DeFazio: It’s complicated. The Senate’s trying to jam the House, here. I mean, they’ve taken the Paulson-Bush bill and they’ve added in a bunch of tax cuts, which on the Republican side of the aisle normally would attract votes. They put in mental-health parity, which has tremendous attraction to liberals and progressives, I mean, a whole lot of people across the board actually on that issue. So, they’re thinking they can buy the votes here. But I just think it’s too big of a price at $700 billion, but maybe they will move enough votes.
Ryssdal: Well, on that point, is there a sense among the leadership that something has to pass?
DeFazio: Oh, yeah. I mean, I think, everybody thinks something has to pass. But I think people feel that they need some sort of confirmation or stamp or push by Congress. So, what I’m saying is, if you could condition them drawing on this money to first implementing all these other measures and see if that takes care of the bank problem, which some people say it will. And the one other critical thing for me is don’t put taxpayers on the line for the Paulson bet here.
Ryssdal: Last time we spoke, Congressman, I asked you about your constituent service line and how those calls were running, and you said, pretty heavily against this bill. Any change since the last vote?
DeFazio: We’re close to 6,000 e-mails and phone calls now. It’s gone from 100-to-1 against to about 95-to-1 against.
Ryssdal:: Even with the DOW down 777 points the other day.
DeFazio: We get very few immediate calls on that. We had a few. We had people call from my district and identify themselves by name and saying, look I know I’m losing some money here, but markets go down, they go up. We think you’re doing the right thing for the country.
Ryssdal: All right, Peter DeFazio, Congressman from Oregon. He’s a Democrat. Congressman, thanks a lot.
DeFazio: Thank you.
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