On the street
I am concerned, but it’s very difficult to know exactly how concerned I should be without knowing the big picture or how and when it’s going to affect the middle class.
ROELAND PARK — U.S. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer on Tuesday campaigned in support of the failed financial markets bailout and backed U.S. Rep. Dennis Moore, the only Kansan in Congress who voted for the proposal.
"This was not a Wall Street bill. It was a Main Street bill," said Hoyer, D-Md., who, along with Moore, staged a news conference in the backyard of the home of Kyle and Rhonda Russell and their three children. Kyle Russell is treasurer of the Johnson County Democratic Party.
On Monday, the House rejected a plan endorsed by President Bush and congressional leaders to inject up to $700 billion in taxpayer funds into Wall Street. The bill's failure helped spark a record drop in the stock market.
Moore, a Lenexa Democrat, was alone in the Kansas House delegation to support the plan. He said it represented a bipartisan compromise that would help lending institutions provide the needed credit to get the economy going while ensuring that "every dime of taxpayer money is paid back in full."
Hoyer said Moore made a "courageous" vote. And both said they would return to Congress this week to start working again on a plan to get a majority vote.
Without a rescue plan, Moore and Hoyer said, homebuyers, college students and businesses would face greater costs and difficulties in getting loans. Retirement plans would also be damaged, they said.
"This is not about politics," said Moore. "It's about taking care of our country and people."
But Kansas' three other House members - U.S. Reps. Nancy Boyda, D-Topeka, Jerry Moran, R-Hays, and Todd Tiahrt, R-Goddard - voted against the proposal, saying it put taxpayers at too much risk while bailing out Wall Street executives whose bad lending practices led to the mess.
Republican Nick Jordan, of Shawnee, who faces Moore in the Nov. 4 election, also criticized the plan.
"Congress needs to take action to address the economic crisis they created. However, taking $700 billion from taxpayers to give to Wall Street high-fliers to pay for Congress' mistakes is too much for the American people to swallow," Jordan said.
In a news conference conducted down the street outside the Russells' home, Jordan blamed Moore for failing to oversee financial institutions from his position on the Financial Services Committee.
But Moore said now wasn't the time to take political shots. "I think we need to put partisan politics aside here and start doing what is right for our people and our country," he said.
Moore said the economic threat facing the country was the greatest since the Great Depression.
Jordan said he would support a smaller package that had more accountability in it, but he didn't provide details.
But Hoyer said Congress had reduced the size of the proposal from what originally was proposed by President Bush and put in safeguards to protect taxpayers.
"We made sure this was not a blank check," Hoyer said. Bush originally asked for $700 billion. But under the plan that failed, the U.S. Treasury would have received $250 billion immediately, and then $100 billion more if the president certified that additional funds were needed. The final $350 billion would have been available only if approved by Congress.
Moore and Hoyer said many lawmakers voted against the measure because they heard from constituents who didn't want to bail out Wall Street bankers.
But Moore said this wasn't a bailout for Wall Street. It was a rescue plan to help stabilize communities hit hard by home foreclosures and to help individuals and businesses obtain credit, he said.
"Whoever started the use of that term (bailout) in the first place did a tremendous disservice in trying to get an agreement here," Moore said.
He added, "I do want a rescue package that will protect our economy, protect our future and protect the markets, and make sure that people can buy homes, get into homes and pay for their homes and not lose those homes as a result of a bad economic situation in this country."