Bailout vote: Blumenauer yes, Schrader no

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 270 to 155 against the second half of the $700 billion financial services industry bailout. It was, however, essentially a meaningless vote. From the O's Jeff Mapes:

The House on Thursday voted 270-155 to "disapprove" releasing the second half of the money. The thing is, the vote was purely symbolic. Because the Senate earlier refused to block the funds, President Obama has all the authority he needs to go ahead with the bailout of the financial system.

Rep. Peter DeFazio and Rep. David Wu voted against the bailout last fall, and voted against it again. Rep. Greg Walden voted for the bailout last fall, but changed his vote to "no" this time.

Newly-elected Rep. Kurt Schrader voted against the bailout. (Last fall, then-Congresswoman Darlene Hooley supported the bailout.)

Rep. Earl Blumenauer voted for the bailout this time, despite having voted against last fall - just one of "about a dozen" members that changed from no to yes. He explained to Jeff Mapes:

I talked to Blumenauer a few hours ago and he said members regarded Thursday's action as a "free vote" against an unpopular bailout bill. The bailout's public standing hasn't been helped by the fact that in the four months since it was first approved, banks and other big financial institutions have received billions of dollars in taxpayer money - and the economy continues to tank.

But Blumenauer said he decided to go the other way with his symbolic vote. He said he did not want to rhetorically punish Obama for what he saw as the sins of the Bush administration.

"I'm not going to tie the hands of the Obama administration when they're doing what I asked to be done," said Blumenauer, noting that the new president has pledged to use some of the money to help hard-pressed homeowners. In addition, Obama and Congress are also working on an $825 billion economic stimulus package aimed at getting the entire economy moving again.

"I certainly am not going to be somebody who is going to try and throw sand in the gears in the first month when you're starting on the right track," Blumenauer added.


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    On the first vote last fall, Earl was pretty adamant that it was a bad bill and worth the risk to the economy of voting it down. Now not so much.

    Personally I have supported both votes, not because I think that Bush and Paulson managed it well, but because the alternatives are so truly scary. Now I believe that Obama will make better use of the funds although I still believe that his crew is still giving too much to the existing bank shareholders and bondholders. However, stopping the funds is still too scary. Meanwhile congress is screwing around with the spending side of the equation and taking way too long to get a bill to Obama.

    My one amusement in all of this is Walden's vote. Is he a party animal or what?

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    "He said he did not want to rhetorically punish Obama for what he saw as the sins of the Bush administration."

    Well done, Earl.

    The "sins of the Bush administration" were equally shared by the previous (Democratically-led) Congress which passed the initial bail-out bill without any oversight controls.

    Earl voted the right way that time, too--against it--when it wasn't symbolic.

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    Blumenauer's vote is very disappointing. Since passage of the House bill would not actually have prevented release of the TARP funds, it was largely a vote underscoring the urgent need to reform how those funds are managed.

    If we needed any further evidence that the banking bailout needs to be put on a different tack, look no further than yesterday's and today's news about Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.

    John Thain was ousted from Bank of America on Thursday, just three weeks after closing the sale of Merrill Lynch to BofA, plunging the company into crisis and raising new questions about the government’s efforts to save the banking industry.

    That's from that well known left wing rag, The Financial Times.

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    It was a free vote because the second tranche money will go out, so this was a free shot for Reps. to vote no (or yes) if it plays better with the electorate.

  • rich (unverified)

    Wu voted against the bailout first around, but voted FOR it on the second.

  • Harry Kershner (unverified)

    Four Reasons to Oppose the Bush-Obama Request for Another $350 Billion Bailout:

    REASON 1: Treasury Says It Doesn't Need the Money

    REASON 2: "New" Conditions Are Filled With Loopholes & Omissions

    REASON 3: Congress Still Abdicating Its Oversight Responsibilities

    REASON 4: Nobody Has Explained Why This Is the Best Way to Spend $350 Billion

    Re: "But Blumenauer said he decided to go the other way with his symbolic vote."

    Terrific symbolism. I would call it emblematic. When principle is called for, we can expect that Earl will not disappoint. Except, why didn't he vote, "Present"?

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