Colorado Senate hopefuls attack each other on economy
September 29, 2008
DENVER ” Two prominent Senate hopefuls from Colorado accused each other in a heated, nationally televised debate Sunday of sharing the blame for a financial industry meltdown that triggered negotiations for a $700 billion government bailout.
Mark Udall, a Democratic congressman, accused Bob Schaffer on NBC’s “Meet the Press” of supporting policies that have led to the economic crisis. Schaffer, a former Republican congressman, responded by saying that Udall has voted against more regulation for companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage giants recently taken over by the federal government.
“This is the result of years and years of Republican leadership, or lack thereof, in Washington,” Udall said. “Tax cuts for those who don’t need it, tax cuts for the oil companies.”
Schaffer quickly responded: “Mark, I’ve been out of Congress for six years. You’ve been there for 10. Tell us what you’ve done.”
After leaving Congress, Schaffer lost a 2004 bid for the Senate seat now held by Democrat Ken Salazar. Schaffer and Udall are running for the seat being vacated by Republican Wayne Allard.
The conversation between the candidates became fervent, each characterizing the other as someone who failed to do enough to prevent Wall Street’s economic meltdown.
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“I would tell you what we can’t do, though, and that’s return to the policies that (former) Congressman Schaffer supported and supports today, which are tax breaks for CEOs, tax breaks for companies that offshore jobs, tax breaks for the wealthiest among us,” Udall said, before Schaffer interrupted him.
“That’s not true, Mark,” he said.
Schaffer said it was Udall who opposed passing legislation that included accountability provisions for mortgage companies. Schaffer said the failure of such legislation is what “led to the immediate excesses that you began to see over the last three years.”
Udall said his constituents don’t support the bailout plan.
“People are mad. People are upset,” Udall said. “My calls are mixed between people who say no and people who say hell, no. This is a real crisis that we face.”
Schaffer said that the rescue plan is necessary, but that it was “essentially a tax.”
“There’s nothing to like about the notion that there is a $700 billion fix needed with respect to a collapse on Wall Street,” Schaffer said.
After the debate, held in Washington, Udall spokeswoman Tara Trujillo acknowledged that he was among a majority of lawmakers voting against a 2005 proposal that would have established minimum capital levels for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, but she said Udall did vote in favor of bills that supported creating a federal agency to regulate both companies.