Latham Vote on Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
Oct 3, 2008 -
Iowa Congressman Tom Latham has released the following statement regarding his vote on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008:
"We have all heard from thousands of our constituents on this measure over the past two weeks. I spoke to one constituent of mine from Iowa yesterday who contacts me regularly to express her opinions and ideas. When discussing her opposition to this bill she summed up the frustrations of Iowans and the overwhelming majority of people across this country. She said “the people out here in the heartland see this bill and bailout as a result of Washington talking to Washington—and not talking and listening to the real people beyond the beltway.”
"She hit the nail on the head. This measure today is a true result of Washington talking to Washington, of Congressional partisanship blinding the legislative process and blocking the chance for real common sense comprehensive solutions, and members of an Administration that are quicker to respond to the needs and pain of Wall Street than the needs and reality on Main Street.
"The measure we voted on Monday was based almost exactly on the original plan of one man—that of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. This plan was sold to us with no guarantee of success—even from its author. This plan was created and based on a randomly selected price tag of $700 billion to the American taxpayers. When asked about why that number was chosen, a spokesperson for the Treasury Department responded in a news article last week that they came up with it because they wanted "a really large number."
"Additionally, the question has to be asked of this plan—is it morally right to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to reward and benefit those on Wall Street who were knowingly involved in risky and, sometimes, exotic financial investments that were hidden from the eyes of federal regulators?
"Why is Washington so quick to focus on the needs of Wall Street at the cost of those responsible Iowans who have sacrificed, saved, and spent within their means?
"No wonder real America has lost faith in Washington.
"I voted against almost this same measure on Monday afternoon. It was a tough vote but it was the right vote. I took that vote so we could sit down as Americans who are truly interested in the well-being of all people in this nation to find a more acceptable path—a well thought out common-sense path. After all, we do agree that something must be done to try and save this nation and her people for what would be a devastating period of economic disaster.
"My hopes, and the hopes of the majority in this country, were dashed after the U.S. Senate not only embraced the plan we voted down earlier in the House, but added an even larger price tag on American taxpayers. And, the Senate—as only could be done in Washington—added hundreds of millions of dollars in pork to the bill to fund children’s wooden arrows, race tracks and Puerto Rican and Virgin Islands rum. The Senate turned a deaf ear to the cries of the American people who are opposed to this measure and decided to add even more unwanted items to their tab.
"In the interest of full disclosure the Senate did add items that I fully support. Important provisions that could help Iowa’s renewables industry—in wind, solar and biofuels—that could help Iowans who are struggling to rebuild after the devastating floods of this summer, and other common sense measures that include increasing FDIC insurance limits.
"But the foundation of the Senate bill that we are considering today remains the same—the randomly selected $700 billion plan that was the creation of one man, that empowers that one man to spend the money as he sees fit—yet has no guarantees for success or even realistic protection provisions that will close the taxpayer’s check book if the plan is not working. I could never trust any one person with complete discretion of $700 billion of taxpayer’s money—no strings attached.
"As the members of this body know, I joined with a group of my colleagues yesterday to work to provide Washington with one last option other than the plan of based on a randomly selected number.
"We drafted an amendment that would give Secretary Paulson $250 billion to use as proposed in his original plan. Even he has said that he could only spend at the most $50 billion a month. This gives him at least five months to see if his plan is working, and if it is proving to have success for all of America’s economy, then he can return to Congress to request the remaining funds. While I know even $250 billion is unacceptable to many fiscal conservatives, the plan gave the American people some level of control over their tax dollars to know that a plan based on a randomly selected number would have to show success and benefits to main street before it was permitted to move forward beyond that additional smaller price tag.
"Our amendment also gave us time… time to come back here and discuss alternatives for the good of the nation as a whole.
"I believe that this amendment would have received overwhelming bi-partisan support from the rank-and-file members whose voices were shut out of this process.
"Unfortunately, what has become standard operating procedure for a broken Congress, in a broken Washington, the members of this body—representing the hundreds of millions of people in real America—were not even allowed the opportunity to vote on an alternate plan. Instead we are forced to consider—up or down, no committee hearings, no committee votes—this plan based on a randomly selected number.
"This week I have spoken with and listened to the reality of the economic landscape from small business employers throughout Iowa. I have heard from farmers, from colleges, from community governments, realtors, car dealerships, utility companies, and hometown bankers—employers of hundreds of thousands of Iowans. They all have told me of the reality of their experiences with credit markets, the reality of economic turbulence, and the real fears that if nothing is done soon that Iowa is facing economic disaster like most of us have not seen in our lifetime. These are real people from real town America, who are doing the right things, providing good jobs for good people, who are leaders in their community and staples of the local economies who are suffering and face economic disaster not because of decisions they have made, but because of the decisions made on Wall Street and in Washington.
"It is clear to all of us that action is needed to protect our economy. But is this plan really the right action we should take? After all, supporting this bill just for the sake that we agree that action is needed does not guarantee that we are moving in the right direction. And, for those who are suffering in real America, actions we take now that are not fully debated and discussed could end up causing more economic harm over the long term.
"The events of the past two weeks—and the resulting proposal that we are forced to consider today—make it painfully clear to me, and millions of Americans, that Washington is unwilling, or incapable, of listening to anyone but Washington.
"That is why I must stand on principle once again today and vote against this measure with the hope that Washington will wake up and—immediately following this vote—begin the responsible process of working together, working with the American people to find a solution that is well considered based on fundamental economic principles that addresses the real needs of real America… real main street. These are the principles on which our nation was founded and these are the principles that we have the duty as Americans to stand up and protect."