Statements from Grayson, Darcy, Steve Cohen, Zeitz, Al Franken, Jeff Merkley, and More

by: Matt Stoller

Mon Sep 22, 2008 at 11:15

TADDEO-SOLIS Press Conference Picture 9-22-08

Annette Taddeo and Hilda Solis campaign against the bailout in South Florida.  Taddeo is a Better Democrat.

Aside from angry anonymous lawmaker (emails one and two are worth reading), Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi, I have a few statements from candidates running for Congress.  It's not the easiest thing in the world to craft a message with a fast-moving situation on the fly, but the basic gist should be 'hell no'.  And please don't talk about bipartisanship.

Here's Doug Tudor (FL-12):

I guess an aspiring congressman is supposed to have a more politically correct vocabulary, but this is absolute bullshit!

It is bullshit that once again the taxpayer is going to get stiffed, while multimillionaire CEO's strap on their golden parachutes.

It is bullshit that guys like Adam Putnam can stand in front of news cameras, spout a bunch of lies, and have the news anchor "thank you for joining us, Congressman."

It is bullshit that we have troops in the field, and our elected representatives are tripping over themselves to figure out how to keep bankers from losing their banks.

Matt Stoller :: Statements from Grayson, Darcy, Steve Cohen, Zeitz, Al Franken, Jeff Merkley, and More
Here's Al Franken (MN-Sen):

Six years after President Bush asked Congress to give him a blank check for war in Iraq, he's asking for a blank check to bail out Wall Street.  But with at least $700 billion of taxpayer money on the line, this time we know better.  It is simply unacceptable to hand this much money to the Treasury Secretary and then just sit and hope we see it again.  If we're putting our tax dollars -- $2,000 for every Minnesota taxpayer -- on the line, we should demand independent oversight to make sure our money is being used well.  A good start would be telling CEOs of companies involved with this bailout that in the public sector, there's no such thing as a golden parachute -- so all excessive compensation, bonuses, and severance agreements are hereby cancelled.  But we also need to restore the regulatory framework dismantled with George W. Bush in the White House and Norm Coleman in the Senate so that this doesn't happen again.  And after eight years of an economic policy that's put Wall Street first and ignored Main Street, we need real relief for struggling homeowners and better regulation of financial products -- that's why I'm calling for a moratorium on foreclosures of primary residences and a Financial Products Safety Commission with similar duties and powers to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  We need to take action to avoid economic disaster - but the era of putting powerful special interests first and ignoring Minnesota's middle class has got to end.

Here's Jeff Merkley (OR-Sen):

"The Republicans in Washington are demanding a blank check to fix the mess they created and that is completely unacceptable.  Real families are hurting in this economy and George Bush is only concerned about CEOs on Wall Street.  Gordon Smith rubber-stamped the Bush policies that led to this mess.  I urge him to reject any blank check that puts special interests on Wall Street ahead of families on Main Street.

Gordon Smith says, "don't play the blame game" - what he really means is "don't hold me accountable".  Oregonians need new leadership in Washington and that starts with rejecting the failed policies and philosophies of Gordon Smith and the Republican party in November.  In the meantime, Smith must stop giving blank checks to the Bush Administration - he did it with the Iraq war, and he shouldn't do it now."

Here's Steve Cohen (TN-09):

Those financial institutions in trouble need to begin paying a surtax that will be earmarked to help those "regular Americans" who have been and will be devastatingly affected by the crisis.

The FDIC should raise its insurance cap to benefit "regular Americans," providing assurance and protection for the money that so many Americans have worked so hard to earn and save.

We should make sure the days of "golden parachutes" cease and desist, period. "Regular Americans'" hard earned money should not be used to for obscene bonuses.

Those who sought and continue to seek to profit at the expense of "regular Americans" should be held accountable not only in the court of public opinion but in the court of indictments and convictions.

Now is the time for real reform. Now is the time to take our country back from Wall Street and return it to Main Street where it belongs.

Here's Alan Grayson (FL-08):

String 'em up.

In the last two days, the U.S. stock market has gone up by $1 trillion.  That's because of a $700 billion direct transfer from taxpayers to financial corporations like AIG and, I guess, the expectation that another $300 billion will find its way into the deal before it's over.  So tax dollars are being used to prop up the stock market, something that never happened even in the deepest depths of the Great Depression.  It's corporate communism.  That's the context.

Here is more context.  $700 billion is over $2000 for every man, woman and child in America.  For a family of seven, like mine, it's over $15,000.  Someone just took $15,000 from me and my family, and gave it to anonymous bondholders whom I've never met, who have done nothing for me, to whom I owe nothing and -- right now -- I really don't like.

More context:  you could take one percent of that amount -- one percent! -- and pay off the delinquency on every home mortgage in arrears in America.  And keep people from losing their homes.  But ordinary people get nothing from this Administration except grief.

Here's Darcy Burner talking about the mess.

Here's Andrew Rice (Sen-OK):

"Over the weekend the Bush Administration contradicted their own longstanding ideology and sent Congress a massive $700 billion proposal to bailout financial institutions on Wall Street. What has Jim Inhofe, who's been in Washington for 22 years, done to avert this crisis? Absolutely nothing. And now that we're in this mess, all he said last week when we saw the biggest financial crash since the 1930s was that he'll 'be keeping a close eye on the fallout.'"  

"Jim Inhofe is responsible for this mess. George Bush was probably the most successful president since FDR in getting everything he wanted in his economic package passed through congress. Massive tax cuts for the wealthy. Deregulation. Limited Oversight. And Jim Inhofe rubber-stamped it every step of the way. Look where it's gotten us. And all he can offer the people of Oklahoma is "I'll be keeping a close eye on it." The good people of Oklahoma deserve much better than this."

Here's Judy Baker (MO-09):

Judy would support a plan that provides for everyday people that have invested their retirement and life savings in Wall Street. She would make stronger regulatory monitoring part of the bill to prevent this from happening again. Judy would not support any bill that includes compensation for corporate executives that are responsible for this meltdown.

And here's Josh Zeitz (NJ-04):

Heads, they win; tails, we lose.  It's the same old tune, and it's getting old.  Democrats have little choice but to agree to a bailout package.  Failure to act soon will accelerate the downward spiral of house prices, exacerbate the foreclosure crisis, and create a general credit squeeze that could push America into an economic Depression, the likes of which we haven't seen since the 1930s.  

But before Democrats agree to the bailout package, they should demand sweeping conditions.   Tomorrow, George Bush will be in my central NJ district to raise money for Republican House candidates In honor of the president's visit, I'm participating in a press conference at Trenton, where I'll suggest that the following conditions be tacked onto the bailout package.  These are just starting points.

1.     (1) Any firm that accepts a bailout has become a ward of the state.  Congress should therefore cap executive compensation, including both salaried compensation and stock payouts.

2.       (2) Bankruptcy judges should be empowered to adjust the terms of mortgages for families facing foreclosure of their primary residences.

3.       (3) Firms that accept the bailout should be required to unionize their clerical and support staff within twelve months.  They should be required to sign agreements binding them to use union workers for any future construction or expansion projects.  If AIG builds a new office, that office should be built by union workers.

4.       (4) Commercial banks that accept the bailout should be required to bring their call centers back to the U.S. and to employ union workers.

5.       (5) Commercial banks that accept the bailout should be compelled to accept tough new restrictions on credit card and banking fees, credit card interest rates, and predatory credit practices.

6.       (6) Executives of any firm that accepts the bailout should be required to attend credit counseling classes.  It's no more than we require of working families who file for bankruptcy when they fall on hard times or face catastrophic health care costs.

These are starting points.  I'd enjoy hearing from people about their thoughts and suggestions.  If you can get them to me today, I'll incorporate them into tomorrow's press statement.  And I'll be sure to report back tomorrow with reflections on George Bush's visit to New Jersey.

Debbie Cook (CA-46:)

"We must take action to keep our whole economy from collapsing. But if the plan by the Treasury which has leaked out today is genuine, then it's unclear if the plan will work at all.

"Add in a massive transfer of authority to the executive branch, with no congressional oversight or judicial review, and this plan should be dead on arrival.

"Handing over taxpayer money to the government with no oversight is always a bad idea and it's especially rotten given the current administration's track record."

Annette Taddeo:

We will not be forced into acting on a $700 billion bill without even examining what the bill does. The American people need protection so that this emergency does not turn into a boondogive-away to corporate insiders. Congress should send President Bush a bill that includes transaction standards, independent oversight, protections for homeowners, and constraints on excessive executive compensation.

The bill is inadequate because while doing nothing for homeowners, it gives the Treasury Department a blank check for Wall Street - it authorizes purchases "on such terms and conditions as determined by the [Administration]." There would be no guidelines, no standards, no conditions. The Treasury would be permitted to purchase assets at any price it wanted, even if it provided a huge profit to the same corporate entities that got us into this mess in the first place, entities like commercial banks, investment banking firms - even hedge funds -- that have acted recklessly or worse.

I oppose, and call on Ileana Ros-Lehtinen to oppose - the Bush Administration's proposed legislation giving the Treasury the power to spend up to $700 billion to buy "mortgage-related assets" from U.S.-based financial institutions, until the proposed bill is strengthened to protect homeowners, and to protect the American taxpayer from sweetheart deals, cronyism and outright waste.

Finally, if the bailout is to be expanded to cover foreign-headquartered companies, then our allies must share the burden. Unfortunately, after seven and a half years of Cowboy diplomacy and a war in Iraq based on lies, we have little if any leverage left with our allies. They have no desire and little incentive to help us in our moment of need. It is time for a new beginning.

Rick Noriega (TX-Sen):

"I am outraged that taxpayers are having to foot the $700 billion bill to clean up the mess made by greedy Wall Street investors and mortgage lenders. This is what happens when John Cornyn takes nearly $1.5 million from the perpetrators of the crisis, spends six years championing an anything goes culture on Wall Street, and abdicates his duty to protect Texans from Wall Street greed. Cornyn's special interest record is something Texans have come to expect but can no longer afford.

I believe:

   * Any new bailout must contain provisions to help middle class Americans keep their homes and their retirement security. Americans need to hold Wall Street accountable for its failures, just as Americans need to hold their elected representatives accountable for their failures to address this before it became a $700 billion problem.

   * The need for oversight and accountability of any new bailout is more important than ever. These firms are should not get a blank check from the taxpayers.

   * We need to rein in the out of control pay and golden parachutes of the CEOs who got us into this mess."

Martin Heinrich (NM-01):

"Middle-class New Mexicans have been pushed to the breaking point by eight years of failed economic policies of the Bush Administration and this bailout unloads yet another burden onto the backs of hard-working New Mexicans. Darren White agreed with George W. Bush's economic policies and supports more of the same for our nation's economy.

"It's time for a change. It's time for economic policies that help middle-class New Mexico families and protect New Mexico taxpayers. It is outrageous that American taxpayers will bear the burden of an estimated $700 billion required to bail out greedy Wall Street executives and reckless mortgage lenders. The nation's financial crisis exposes the ineptitude and outright negligence of the Washington regulators George W. Bush charged with overseeing the financial industry.

"As part of this historic package, Congress needs to address the struggles of middle-class New Mexican families on Main Street and not simply hand over a blank check to irresponsible executives on Wall Street. A comprehensive package needs to include significant reforms to our current regulatory system, hold accountable those responsible for this financial crisis, and payback American taxpayers for any loan granted as a part of the rescue."

Ronnie Musgrove (Sen-MS):

"It is unacceptable and outrageous that Washington let this financial crisis get out of control.  It is a result of complete and utter incompetence in Washington, which gave the selfish, greedy special interests everything and anything they asked for.

"Roger Wicker and the other Washington insiders gave Wall Street an unethical power and ability to take advantage of Americans.  Despite all of the breaks it got from Washington, Wall Street has failed and we are paying the price.  Our retirements, our savings, our homes - our futures are at risk because Washington has been in bed with the special interests.

"Now, Washington wants to borrow more money from countries like China - that we will have to pay back with our hard earned tax dollars - for a $700 billion dollar bailout for a corrupt industry that has jumped at every opportunity to squeeze every dime out of our pockets.

"If there is a bailout it must protect American families, workers and small businesses.  We must demand new ethics on Wall Street along with real accountability and oversight.  

"CEOs who have run the economy into the ground should not receive tens of millions of dollars in compensation.  They should receive no bonuses at all.  No more fancy houses and big yachts.  The Justice Department should be investigating them and when wrongdoing is found their assets should be seized.  

"It is time to change Wall Street and time to change Washington.  Both have failed America.  

"Roger Wicker and the other Washington insiders are part of the problem.  They have been part of a corrupt Washington system that has put special interests first and represents the status quo.

"Washington has failed.  Roger Wicker and the insiders have failed.  It is time for change."

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I've already called my .. (0.00 / 0)
Congress critter(a Republican) .. i'll be calling my Senators(Casey and Snarlin' Arlen) soon .. will the Dems cave into the fear tactics again? ... If Obama is as smart as we think he is .. he'll see through this attempt to stiffle his Presidency ... everyone should be calling their Congressman/women and Senators .. and telling them vote no to the Paulson Plan

This is good (4.00 / 1)
They're angry. Anger is good. I hope that enough of those they're hoping to join are angry too, because it's the only way we get anything even halfway acceptable out of this.

Forgotten Countries - a foreign policy-focused blog

Other conditions to be added (4.00 / 3)
These are two ideas directly taken from Robert Reich's post at TPM Cafe.


1. The government (i.e. taxpayers) gets an equity stake in every Wall Street financial company proportional to the amount of bad debt that company shoves onto the public. So when and if Wall Street shares rise, taxpayers are rewarded for accepting so much risk.

2. All Wall Street executives immediately cease making campaign contributions to any candidate for public office in this election cycle or next, all Wall Street PACs be closed, and Wall Street lobbyists curtail their activities unless specifically asked for information by policymakers. Why should taxpayers finance Wall Street's outsized political power - especially when that power is being exercised to get favorable terms from taxpayers?

First, we're taking all the risk, therefore; we should be rewarded for our generosity.

Secondly, no way in hell do I want any of my tax money going into the coffers of Wall Street PAC's that lobbied the country into this mess!

Those are very smart moves (4.00 / 1)
It's time we started using our leverage and starting off from a maximalist position.

[ Parent ]
Franken Got It Right (4.00 / 2)
This is the Iraq war all over again.  I'm really having second thoughts re the reality of the whole situation.  

Last payoff before President Obama.  All aboard...

Jeanne Shaheen: (0.00 / 0)
via email;

"I am deeply troubled by the fact that the taxpayers are being asked to foot a $700 billion bill for bad decisions made by Wall Street investment banks and the lack of oversight and accountability championed by George Bush, John Sununu and their allies in Congress.  As this proposal develops, I think it is critical that any final deal includes protections for taxpayers, help for families who have been the victims of predatory lending practices and tough, new accountability and oversight in the financial markets to ensure that we don't end up in this situation again.  Lax accountability and the look-the-other-way culture that the Bush administration and their allies have supported in Washington have allowed Wall Street to run rampant at the expense of middle class families - and now families are paying the price as pensions and 401Ks are jeopardized, housing values plummet even further and it becomes harder and more expensive to borrow.

It is outrageous that taxpayers are now being asked to hand over hundreds of billions of dollars to bailout the people that got us into one of the worst financial crises in history while some of the CEOs at these firms are getting enormous severance and compensation packages -- despite their roles at the helm.  It is unacceptable that we are now looking at adding a trillion dollars to our national debt and tripling this year's deficit to bail out these institutions.  And it is disgraceful that we are considering asking the taxpayers to clean up after the abuses and failures of Wall Street, the Bush administration and their allies.  It is imperative that the taxpayers be protected first and foremost in any final bailout proposal and that the people who got us into this situation don't get handed a blank check."

Blue Hampshire - Defeating Republicans since 2006.

Just want to add a little more from the Merkley campaign (0.00 / 0)
Here's a snippet from our press release we just put out:

Jeff Merkley, candidate for U.S. Senate, today called on Gordon Smith to reject a blank check proposal for the Bush Administration, demanding that any package should include protections for homeowners, limits on executive compensation and market reforms to prevent a future crisis.

Gordon Smith's support for deregulation was instrumental in causing this crisis. In 1999, he supported the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which removed restrictions on the activities of banks, investment firms and insurance companies and allowed the proliferation of new and unregulated banking practices that led to this crisis.

Netroots Director for Oregon Senate Candidate Jeff Merkley

Statement from Jim Esch (0.00 / 0)
Omaha, Neb.- Jim Esch said in a statement today that Congress and Wall Street executives are at fault for recent economic woes. Esch criticized his opponent Lee Terry for his support of a plan that asks American citizens to foot the bill for a bailout that only benefits Wall Street.

"My opponent supports a plan that will give Wall Street a blank check from struggling American families to bail out those who recklessly gambled with our economic future. It does nothing to ensure that tax payers aren't stuck with the bill. Quite honestly, that is alarming to me," Esch said. "Congress needs a responsible plan that makes sure the American tax payer is repaid in full."

In addition to repayment provisions, Esch called for a plan that includes investigations of and regulations for Wall Street executives. Terry voted to relax federal regulations that would have protected the market from the current economic crisis.

"We need to hold those responsible for this crisis accountable. Congress turned a blind eye over the past 10 years, and Wall Street executives were allowed to operate with relaxed federal oversight," Esch said. "The same people who got us into this financial mess are now asking the American tax payer to bail them out of it, with nothing more than a promise of 'Trust us, we know what we are doing.' Why should we trust those who created the problem to fix it? As your Congressman, I will work to restore oversight, something my opponent has disregarded."

Further Reading

Time to push Roosevelts' 1942 plan (0.00 / 0)
Naomi Klein talks about the Shock Doctrine, when people use something like 911 to enact their goal to invade Iraq. Why can't we do the same thing? Why not push something like Roosevelt's 1942 tax plan?

This 2006 post will explain it and shows how it might help the world see that the USA is now going to become serious about paying its bills.

Check it out. Edward R. Murrow explains the affect it had on England.


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