I was slack-jawed as I watched House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the debate over the "Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008." Pelosi’s hyper-partisanship and finger were in House Republicans’ faces.
Pelosi’s partisan rhetoric was surprising given the vote was pending. The whole world now knows that she made her move too soon. The bill was defeated by a vote of 228-205. Ninety-five Democrats voted against the bill, including 21 of 39 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Georgia Rep. David Scott said:
The name of the game is: You cannot send $700 billion to Wall Street while 6,300 homes are being foreclosed on every day.
Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings said in a statement:
I am deeply concerned that there is no requirement that Wall Street take responsibility for the mess it helped to create. There is no meaningful limitation on golden parachutes for executives—who are still making millions of dollars a month even as average Americans continue to struggle to stay afloat. I am concerned that the board created to oversee this bailout is not offered the power to stop any irresponsible or questionable action. I am concerned that there are no safeguards against taxpayers being overcharged to buy these assets—or any guarantees that they will profit from these investments in the future
While the Dow Jones industrial average fell 778 points, all is not lost. We the people made our voices heard: No bailout of Wall Street.
Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, said:
Today’s House vote was a reminder that ultimately it’s the Americans who elect members of Congress who have the most influence over them -- when they speak up with a loud voice. In this case, money from the finance sector -- the biggest campaign contributor of all time -- seems to have played a part in lawmakers’ votes, but it didn’t win the day. Risking a seat in Congress for campaign cash isn’t worth it for politicians when the public is paying attention. And the public is certainly paying attention now.
With the defeat of the bill, congressional leaders must go back to the drawing board. The notion of a Wall Street bailout is a "grimace-inducing phrase," but something must be done.
That said, Congress' next move must be to read the bill first. The House voted on the 110-page bill less than 24 hours after it was posted online.
The new bill must not give Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson unfettered discretion to decide which toxic assets to purchase from his former cronies.
The implementation of any rescue plan must not be outsourced to the same financial institutions and Wall Street vultures that got us into this mess. Call me old school, but I don’t think you can be part of the problem and the solution.
There must be restructuring of subprime mortgages and regulatory reform. Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., a longtime voice for distressed homeowners, noted:
A "bail out" plan that does not rescue homeowners will not stop the crisis. The foreclosure epidemic gripping communities across the nation will continue. The existing proposal includes vague language that calls for the government to buy mortgages and securities and then try to modify them, but fails short of making this a mandate required to end the recession.
There must be citizen oversight and transparency. Sure, the proposed oversight panels are better than Paulson's no-strings-attached handout. But it’s our money. Congress and the Bush administration have shown they cannot be trusted with our money.
On the campaign trail yesterday, Barack Obama said:
It is time we had some adult supervision. That’s why I’m running for president.
With congressional leaders in disarray and Pelosi throwing spitballs before the votes are counted, it looks like Congress needs "some adult supervision."
Obama says he is ready to lead. That he alone can bring Americans together. With the nation facing "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression," when will Obama "step up to the plate?"