Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Senator Maria Cantwell says bailout bill before Congress is flawed to its core

Minutes ago, the United States Senate voted seventy four to twenty five to pass fundamentally flawed legislation that would bail out Wall Street's mistakes to the tune of nearly three fourths of a trillion dollars.

Ken posted the roll call earlier

Voting yes were Senators Patty Murray, Larry Craig and Gordon Smith. Voting no were Senators Maria Cantwell, Mike Crapo and Ron Wyden.

Senators Obama and McCain voted yes.

The following is the text of Senator Cantwell's unprepared remarks (delivered earlier this evening on the Senate floor) calling for a redesigned solution that addresses the causes of this financial crisis - a solution that safeguards America's common wealth and holds Wall Street accountable.
Mr. President, I don't think 5 minutes would possibly be enough time for me to explain all the things I would like to say. I am sure I could spend an hour talking about credit default swaps. I am sure I could spend 2 days talking about the lack of transparency in the financial markets.

I am sure I could spend a lot of time explaining what I think is the right thing we should do to put as much liquidity into the markets as possible. So I will try to be succinct.

I came to the Senate knowing what it is like to take a tough vote. To make the decision that is right for the American public. It’s most important to do the right thing. I also know what it is like to see millions of dollars in the stock market go away and watch a stock bubble burst.

I also know what it is like to stand on the Senate floor, as I did 3 years ago, when someone tried to cram legislation in the Defense authorization bill to open up drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, and I said then that is was the equivalent to legislative blackmail.

I am not going to vote for this legislation tonight based on whether someone crams in tax credits, for which I actually have fought so hard. I am going to render my decision based on what I think is important for the American people.

I think there is something that is missing in our discussion. I applaud Chairman Dodd who has worked hard on the Banking Committee. I applaud my colleague who just spoke, who spoke eloquently about the need to do something.

But the problem with the legislation before us is that it is choosing winners and losers in corporate America. It is inserting the Federal Government in a role in which they decide, along with the private sector, exactly how funds should be allocated.

I am for the full faith and credit of the U.S. Government backing these institutions. What I am not for is turning the keys to the Treasury over to the private sector.

There is much we could agree on tonight. We could agree on the new changes to the FDIC rule. We could agree on mark to market accounting changes and to bringing better marketing and accountability to the system.

We could agree on the up-tick rule and other predictability measures that help the market understand that there is a broad commitment by this institution to do something to help stabilize the markets.

But I am very concerned about the "pick here, pick there" approach that has transpired in the last several weeks.

I ask you to just think of one institution, in my State, Washington Mutual - which I would not necessarily applaud for its subprime lending rates or for its use and backing of credit default swaps, but I would ask you to consider the fact that as that institution was forced into sale by this Government.

Who were the winners and losers in that?

JPMorgan got the assets of that institution and benefited from that. In fact, JPMorgan predicted to me on a conference call the night they acquired Washington Mutual that after one year with their investment, they would have an over $500 million on that investment. That is a 27 percent returned in one year.

The FDIC got some money out of that, too. And then to say nothing about the over 60,000 shareholders who were wiped out.

My complaint is: where is JPMorgan - who should be standing up for the retirement plans, the deferred compensation plans, and other packages that the employees at that company were due?

It is very convenient for us to now choose that we are going to add to JPMorgan's bottom line. In fact, if we would instead do what I am suggesting, we could have an equity proposal instead of having TARP, the Troubled Asset Relief Program, as the roof over America.

Instead, we could have an equity program where the United States would leverage our capital and spur ten to twelve times the private sector investment at the same time, our Nation would be better funded, better prepared, for the onslaught of trouble that is still going to remain after we pass this legislation.

I could not even get my amendment to be considered.

So, so much for the transparency of the Senate.

I am going to continue to work for this idea, for equity, for a more leveraged position, and that we do the traditional role that Government has done time and time again: to use our equity to leverage the private sector to secure our economy.

Thank you Mr. President, and I yield the floor.
We at at the Northwest Progressive Institute strongly applaud Senator Maria Cantwell for her courageous vote.

She is a dependable champion for the public interest, and her speech tonight (which was not prepared in advance) is filled with uncommon sense.

Barack Obama and the Democratic Congressional leadership would be wise to listen to the very serious concerns that Senator Cantwell raised.

If this bailout bill is supposed to be a cure, it's almost worse than the disease that caused it. This is not the timely, deliberative reform that America needs.


Blogger Dave Atkins said...

I remember when Maria Cantwell won the 1st District when I lived in Tacoma and was involved in the Paul Tsongas campaign...and every time I check back I see she continues to be a voice of reason and good sense. I wish more people would listen to her and the unique alliance of liberal/progressives and fiscal conservatives that is resisting the scare tactics of the leadership in both parties.

October 2, 2008 12:27 PM  

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