how they voted
McConnell, Hoosier senators vote for bailout
By James R. Carroll • firstname.lastname@example.org • October 2, 2008
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Buzz up! WASHINGTON -- The financial rescue plan passed the Senate last night with the help of three Kentucky and Indiana members who said action was necessary to prevent a national crisis from deepening.
"The current crisis may have its roots in the actions of a few," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told his colleagues before voting for the plan. "But its effects could potentially reach into every single home in Kentucky and every other home in America."
Sens. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind., also voted for the plan.
"This is a distasteful but necessary step to protect millions of innocent people from the malfeasance of a few," Bayh said.
But Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., remained opposed to the rescue, as he has been since the Bush administration first proposed it, saying "it is still the same old bailout for Wall Street with a few extra sweeteners intended to buy off votes.
"In the end, this bill still puts the taxpayers on the hook for Wall Street's losses and takes America's free-market system down the path towards socialism."
The Senate took the unusual procedural step of taking up its own rescue bill after the House narrowly defeated a similar measure Monday, precipitating a 777-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average. The House is expected to consider the Senate measure tomorrow.
In contrast to the House, where area lawmakers said they opposed the bill because of widespread outrage among constituents against what they viewed as a bailout for "fat cats," Senate supporters of the measure said they were hearing from constituents worried about their businesses, savings and jobs.
"The problem we face as a nation is urgent and unprecedented," McConnell said. "For now, the practical problem we face is this: Credit, the lifeblood of our economy, is frozen. And unless we act, it's expected to remain that way. This means that the lives of ordinary American families could be severely disrupted, commerce could dry up and millions of jobs could be lost."
The Senate GOP leader said shock waves were spreading across the nation.
He said small-business owners in Kentucky were writing to him, warning of skyrocketing interest rates.
A woman in Central Kentucky told McConnell she feared that she might have to sell off part of the family farm, while a La Grange businessman told him the interest rate on a loan for an office building tripled in the past week.
"This economic rescue plan is a necessary effort to protect the vast majority of Americans -- whose day-to-day lives depend on ready access to credit -- from the misdeeds of Wall Street," McConnell said. "And, at this point, doing nothing to prevent an economic collapse is no longer an option."
Lugar, who worked on the financial rescue plan for Chrysler Corp. in 1979, agreed.
"Failure to pass such legislation would lead to massive unemployment and failure of small business and farming operations in Indiana. That is unacceptable," he said. "The financial rescue legislation will restore credit flow to homeowners, businesses, farmers and all the people who, by the very nature of their businesses, need to borrow money to maintain their activity and keep employees."
He and other supporters of the bill said there are proper and sufficient safeguards to protect taxpayer money, oversee the rescue process and prevent executives being rewarded for their mistakes.
Those senators also praised a provision that applies the proceeds from the rescue plan to reduce the national debt.
Lugar's office said that in the case of Chrysler, which at the time was criticized as a bailout, the aid package came with safeguards for taxpayers' money and major concessions from the company and the unions. In the end, the federal loans were paid back, with interest, to the government -- in just four years, which was ahead of schedule, Lugar's office said.
Bayh said there was no alternative to the rescue plan.
"Those who will pay the price for inaction are the worker at the canceled construction project, the small-business owner who can no longer make payroll, the student who will not be able to attend college because she can't get a loan, the senior citizen who can no longer make ends meet because her nest egg has been devastated," he said.
Bunning, however, said the rescue plan was "ridiculous."
He said he agrees there are "extreme tensions in the financial markets right now."
But he said comments by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who have warned of potential catastrophe without congressional action, have made matters worse.
"We all know that those problems could soon have an impact on businesses and individuals who had nothing to do with the mortgage mess" Bunning said. "But I do not believe that this bailout bill is the solution. This is a short-term fix that does nothing to address what is really a long-term problem."
He said the rescue bill might help the balance sheets on Wall Street.
"But nowhere does the bill require that newfound money be lent to anyone on Main Street, and I doubt it will happen," Bunning said.
Reporter James R. Carroll can be reached at (202) 906-8141.