Coble Votes No on Rescue Plan
Congressman Howard Coble went along with a grassroots rebellion in the 6th District Monday when he voted against the $700 billion financial rescue package.
Coble had plenty of company from both parties in the North Carolina delegation. All six Republicans voted against the bill heartily supported by President Bush. Three of the seven Democrats voted against it.
"This was a bad deal from the beginning, and while improvements were made over a weekend of negotiating, the people of the 6th District let me know in no uncertain terms that they were in no mood to bail out those who made some horrible financial decisions," Coble said in a statement released Monday afternoon.
With many House members bowing to pressure from their constituencies back home, the bipartisan deal worked out through a long weekend fell through when the vote was taken. The vote was 228 to 205, with two-thirds of the Republicans deserting the president, along with 40 percent of the Democrats.
Work on another rescue package must wait at least until Thursday, because Congress took a brief recess after the vote in observance of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish High Holy Days, which began at sundown Monday. Coble flew back to North Carolina shortly after the recess began and was scheduled for a series of events in the 6th District, including an appearance in Moore County Tuesday night.
"Now that this bill has been defeated, we have to go back to the drawing board to see where Congress can assist in the recovery of the financial, credit and housing markets," Coble said. "I was never completely convinced that this rush-to-judgment was the right approach."
Coble said the bill left too many questions unanswered.
The vote left politicians and the public alike, confused and searching for answers, something that became more acute within hours, when the stock market began to tumble. Before the day was over, the stock market had plummeted 777 points, a historic one-day drop.
"There is no accurate estimate of the total amount of troubled assets, and as a result, there is no guarantee that $700 billion will even secure our financial markets," Coble said. "Furthermore, the government purchasing toxic assets with taxpayer dollars makes no sense."
Coble said taxpayers are not the ones who should be bailing out Wall Street executives and other individuals who have enjoyed lucrative benefits by exploiting the financial services industry.
"Particularly those who have contributed to the sub-prime mortgage crisis," Coble said. "To make matters worse, this bill did not prevent golden parachutes. It only prevented future golden parachutes. These executives must be held accountable and regardless of when their crisis occurred or the amount of government assistance, they should be prohibited from receiving any financial rewards.
A Greensboro Republican, Coble said the appropriate role of the government is to protect the taxpayers and their investments, not to subsidize a market or sector of the economy. He said the bill did nothing to prohibit activities that have led so many financial institutions into the current fiscal crisis.
Although Coble praised the Republican leadership for improving on a bad bill, he said it was not improved enough to gain his vote.
"Thanks to GOP negotiators, oversight boards were created, reporting requirements for Office of Management and Budget and Congressional Budget Office were added, a required plan to recoup losses was added, funding authorization was divided into three phases and added an opportunity for Congress to rescind up to $350 billion and a requirement to establish an insurance program was added. Perhaps these improvements could be the starting point for a new round of negotiations," he said.
Coble said that important items were removed, such as housing slush funds that bankrolled organizations, including the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
But ultimately, it was the reaction from back home that sealed Coble's determination to oppose the bill. His office reported that about 90 percent of the response through e-mails, phone calls and faxes expressed opposition to the bailout bill.
The vote against the bill represented a major defeat for Bush, who had vigorously supported the plan as essential for the nation's financial recovery. The bill, crafted under the eyes of Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, was designed to loosen credit lines and restore financial stability. The bill would have allowed the government to buy bad mortgages and other assets held by banks and other lending institutions teetering on the edge of failure.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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