DeGette calls rescue plan failure ‘shocking’
September 30, 2008
DENVER ” Colorado’s congressional delegation is divided over what to do next after the House killed a $700 billion economic bailout, with some suggesting speedy revisions and another vote and others suggesting taking more time to find the right solution at the right price.
Democratic Rep. Diana DeGette on Tuesday called the failure of the bailout “shocking” and urged lawmakers to work on a solution as quickly as possible.
“I think, frankly, that there were a lot people who voted ‘no’ but hoped that the bill would pass,” she said. “And they voted ‘no’ because their offices were getting inundated with phone calls against it.”
Rep. John Salazar, also a Democrat, cautioned against rushing to a decision on a massive proposal with a “price tag that came out of the air.”
“It has no justification for why it was that large,” Salazar said.
The House killed the bill Monday on a 228-205 vote. Four of Colorado’s delegation voted no: Salazar, Democrat Mark Udall and Republicans Marilyn Musgrave and Doug Lamborn. Voting yes were DeGette, Democrat Ed Perlmutter and Republican Tom Tancredo.
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DeGette blamed election-year political pressure for the failure and said the public misunderstood the purpose of the bailout and the consequences of its breakdown. The collapse of financial institutions dries up credit and makes it tougher for everyone to get loans, she said.
“I’m not sure that any politician has yet explained the seriousness of the situation to average Americans,” she said.
Asked how confident she was that $700 billion would shore up the economy, DeGette said, “I think that we’re on uncharted waters here.”
DeGette said lawmakers will resume working on a plan when they return to Washington on Wednesday after a brief break for the Jewish celebration of Rosh Hashanah. She said she had not seen any proposed alternative.
The Senate has scheduled a Wednesday vote on the rescue plan.
Colorado Democratic Sen. Ken Salazar, John Salazar’s brother, said Congress needs to act because the economy is in “dire” condition. But he said the bailout needs to protect taxpayers, and the funds should be released in installments to ensure accountability and proper implementation.
John Salazar said the Bush administration is using scare tactics to push its plan through.
“That’s the biggest problem. The administration is scaring the American public by saying the bottom is going to fall out,” he said.
Although the Dow Jones industrial average plunged 778 points Monday, Salazar cited the partial recovery Tuesday, when it rose 485 points.
Salazar said he would support a proposal that raises the federal insurance limit on bank accounts, an option also endorsed by Udall.
“I think that’ll do more to insure people that they’re not going to loss their money,” Salazar said.
Udall invoked a quote by former UCLA basketball coach John Wooden: “Be quick but don’t hurry.”
“We’re in a crisis but we have to fix it the right way,” Udall said.
He said the rescue plan needs to guarantee taxpayers will be repaid, and that compensation for CEOs needs to be scaled back more.
“Yesterday for me was not quite good enough,” Udall said. “In the end it’s about the people I represent. I don’t think they were getting a fair shake.”
Tancredo, who is serving his last year in Congress, said his constituents opposed the plan 10 to 1. He said he explains his “yes” vote to them by saying he is “trying to avoid a bigger calamity that will engulf them” if lawmakers don’t act.
“To tell you the truth, nobody knows whether 700 billion is too much or not enough,” he said, adding that “doing nothing is not really an option.”