Feinstein & Boxer on the bailout package

The U.S. Senate tonight voted 74-25 in favor of a $700 billion financial-markets bailout package similar to that which was rejected by the House on Monday, but with a few trinkets added on such as temporarily raising the FDIC insurance cap to $250,000 from $100,000. Both Barack Obama and John McCain voted for it, as did both of California’s Senators.

Here’s what Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., had to say about it:

“Mr. President, I rise today to support the bipartisan economic rescue legislation.

“It has been said that Senators have six-year terms for a reason. And that reason is to be able to take tough votes because it’s right for the nation, and take tough votes when at times they may be adverse to the beliefs of your constituency.

“This today is indeed a tough vote.

“I want to thank the Banking Committee, particularly its chairman, Chris Dodd, and members on both sides of the aisle for their work on this.

“So let me quickly begin.

“This bill is not the bill that was put forward by Secretary Paulson on September 20th. His bill was essentially a non-starter – startling in its unbridled allocation of power to one man: the Secretary of Treasury whom we know now, and to a Secretary of Treasury after January whom we do not know.

“It placed this man above the law, above administrative oversight and above Congressional action and essentially gave him $700 billion to do with what he thought best.

“This bill didn’t fly with virtually anyone who looked at it, particularly constituents, who have called in the tens of thousands of phone calls all across this land. My office has received over 91,000 calls and emails with over 86,000 opposed. The bill before us is not Paulson’s three-page proposal. Rather, it is a bipartisan effort that adds oversight, accountability, assistance to homeowners, executive compensation limits and other measures to protect taxpayers.

“But there still is a lot of misinformation on this bill.

“This is not a $700 billion gift for Wall Street. Rather, the federal government will buy equity in certain assets – both good and bad – to pump liquidity into the marketplace and unfreeze credit which is increasingly freezing and unavailable.

“Over time, these assets will be sold and the federal government will be the first paid back on the investment. The belief is that by doing this the federal government will clear much of the bad debt on the books of certain strategic financial institutions, restoring stability, adding liquidity and unfreezing credit.

“Recently, we have seen major U.S. institutions fail: Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG. And, two retail banks – not investment banks: Washington Mutual, and Wachovia.

“If we do nothing, more institutions will fail.

“Now, you may say: what does this mean to me? I work hard, I pay my bills, I pay cash.

“Here’s what it will mean to you: it will be harder for most Americans to get any credit. Therefore, jobs will be lost.

“And we may well face a deep recession.

“California has 3.75 million small businesses with an average of 5.6 employees. That adds up to over 20 million jobs.

“Some of these businesses are funded with cash, but most are funded with credit. When credit freezes, payrolls cannot be met. And when payrolls cannot be met, pink slips are sent out.

“And this will happen to retailers, grocery stores, restaurants, electrical and plumbing contractors, apparel manufacturers, computer and electronics stores, and auto dealerships.

“Sales at auto dealerships have fallen dramatically in the past year.

· “Ford sales are down 34 percent
· “Chrysler sales are down 33 percent.
· “Toyota sales are down 29 percent, and
· “GM sales are down 16 percent.

“The list will go on and on.

“Importantly, there have now been several improvements to this bill. First, The FDIC insurance rate covering bank deposits has been increased from $100,000 to $250,000. Americans will know that their deposits are secure up to $250,000.

“The legislation will provide tax relief to working families.

“One example: the Alternative Minimum tax is a real problem. It was meant to apply only to 200 wealthy people, but it was never adjusted for inflation and it has crept down the income scale to the point where more than 25 million taxpayers today may well have to pay an Alternative Minimum Tax.

“In California, 700,000 people paid this tax last year. But 4 million Californians will pay that tax this year unless we take action.

“This bill takes that action. For one year it will prevent this tax increase.

“The Congressional Budget Office has reviewed this bill and concluded that the net cost to taxpayers is ‘likely to be substantially less than $700 billion.’

“Again, these investments are first in line to be paid back.

“It must be remembered that there was a great deal of criticism when the U.S. government bailed out Mexico in 1996 with $20 billion. The fact is, the money was paid back ahead of time and $600 million in profit was made.

“Let me give you the following points.

· “This bill mandates that the government provide loan modifications for the subprime mortgages it acquires. This will help keep families in homes rather than foreclosing and putting the house on a deteriorating housing market where property values drop and homes are looted.
· “The bill limits executive compensation.
· “It provides strong oversight and accountability, including a financial stability oversight board, a five-member Congressional oversight panel, an Inspector General, and a constant presence at Treasury by the Government Accountability Office.

“This is the only choice Congress can make. One can rail against it and vote no on it, but that’s not going to solve the problem. We have one chance, and one chance only, to solve the problem, and it is this bill.

“I wish I could write it differently. Others wish they could write it differently, but the fact is that we are faced with this. Again, theirs is no question this is a tough vote.

“But there’s no question that this is a vote that I believe has to be made.”

See Barbara Boxer‘s statement, after the jump…

“Thank you to those Americans whose outrage at the original Administration blank check bailout stopped that arrogant proposal in its tracks.

“We were all stunned. They and their allies were telling us the fundamental of our economy were strong just two weeks before. They had failed to use the powers Congress gave them to stop bad mortgages. Where was the oversight in their proposal? Where was taxpayer equity? Where was the control over CEO pay?

“The answer back from Mr. Paulson on a phone call with dozens of Senators was: No restrictions on this bailout. Well, count me out!

“A far better plan emerged from the Banking Committees. But for me, it didn’t do enough. I wrote to Mr. Paulson urging smaller installments, reforms, and I pushed for direct investment or loans, rather than toxic asset purchases.

“We didn’t get it, but in this Senate legislation, we did get more FDIC protection for bank depositors, which is crucial to deterring an epidemic of bank closures, something that was at the heart of the Great Depression. Broader FDIC protection will help small businesses who need certainty meeting payrolls—that is where working families come in. Most working families today can’t miss even one paycheck given our high cost of living.

“We need to retain and create jobs, which is why I support another change in this legislation—$16 billion in tax incentives for job-producing, renewable energy businesses. Plus, there is billions more in tax relief for businesses and individuals. We lost 84,000 jobs in August alone—we must act.

“Another provision, originally written by Senators Wellstone and Domenici, will keep many families from going bankrupt by ensuring that mental health illness will be covered fairly.

“So this legislation before us is much improved and I hope it passes.

“I want to share what California Treasurer Bill Lockyer said will happen if we don’t act: He said we won’t be able to sell voter-approved highway, school, and water bonds that are desperately needed for California’s economy and the creation of good-paying, new jobs. California also desperately needs access to short-term borrowing from banks to finance our budget.

“Now, how did we get here? In my view, deregulation fever. It started in the 80s with lawmakers interfering with federal regulators over the Savings and Loan crisis. It continued in 1995, when the Republicans took control of Congress. They tried to place a moratorium on all new regulations. That effort failed, but their success came in 1999, when Senator Phil Gramm and his allies tore down the firewalls that separated various financial institutions. And then, the deregulation of the energy business — you remember Enron.

“Phil Gramm recently said we are nation of whiners. I say his legacy is a disaster.

“I believe, and I hope, this package will do what is needed to restore trust in the short term. For the long term, we need regulatory reform and change that makes job-producing investments in America, not in foreign lands.

“I look forward to that work on behalf of my great state of California and this great nation.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • carmine alessandro

    This is pure treason, we both know it.

    I will vote for your opponents come election time.

    History will not be kind to you. The American people will be out for blood when they learn the truth.

    Carmine Alessandro


  • carmine alessandro

    Franklin Roosevelt faught to save the people, not the banks. Senators Boxer and Feinstein did the opposite. This will lead to hyperinflation of the dollar, that’s 100% certain. These senetors are traitors to the American Republic.

  • Dan McElvany

    Dear Senators,
    Although personally affected by the AMT (and I hate it), I do not see how a reduction in my taxes will make it easier for me to get credit from lenders. Indeed, I can’t get a HELOC right now, and my credit score is excellent — I’m not the impaired party, the lenders are. AMT is it’s own battle, irrelevant to this bailout, so please do not use it as a salve to ameliorate detractors of the bailout. Second, there are cheaper solutions to this problem being proposed by economists every day. Don’t be swayed by our President’s unreasonable pressure for immediate action (the last time he pulled this, we got into a costly, apparantly endless war) — instead, slow down the processs so that we can get to the best answer, not just the quickest one.
    Thanks and regards,

  • John

    I’d like to see some ‘in-depth’ reporting on all the ‘earmarks’ that were inserted into this bill! Will some careful political blogger please create a list of all of them and attach to each the name of the senator who requested that the earmark be attached? This should be broadly available public information.

  • These two women are scum! And that’s all I have to say about that!

    I like how it started as a “Bail-Out” and now it has turned into a “RE$CUE PLAN,” what a damn joke!

  • Stanley Flemmings

    I do not profess to be a math genius, but there appears to be a more appropriate way to settle the emensely disturbing financial conflict we are faced with, at this time. Back in the mid 1970’s, the banks gave us much higher interest rates on our savings. That obviously rendered more money into our savings accounts. It helped in building a healthy America. If there’s little to no money to circulate, America will plummet into financial disaster. It was an era when we could write off credit card and automobile interests. This is how ‘main street’ can share in the profits.

  • Thomas Erpelding

    Sorry but the argument that she knows better that the taxpayers when Congress refused to invite any other economists to testify is a lie. Why didn’t they? Well over 200 of them (including a couple Nobel peace prize winners) would have said…this won’t work. The International Monetary Fund did a study which shows these types of bailouts don’t work. But if you don’t show any alternatives you can keep saying, “It is this or nothing”. Boxer and Feinstein may have just helped start a recession.

    No you say. This bill will solve the problems. No…it simply is to try to restore confidence. Think about that word…a subjective experience. Nothing tangible. Yep. Banks have the money to lend…they either choose to or not. Now imagine you are a bank. You have bought some risky loan products and now can’t sell them to anyone else. Paulson starts talking to Wall Street (but we don’t see that conversation) and offers to broker a deal. The markets freeze up waiting for the government bailout. It is a self-serving prophecy; the credit lines have become more difficult since Bush/Paulson brought this up. If we say No! and then actually come up with something that does not give taxpayers money to Wall Street we can get rid of the illiquid assets.

    Have you noticed that Wall Street is really having to give up anything? No new regulations or restrictions. No limits on the types of loans that got them here? This is a farce folks. Call you representative…say no and say you will vote against them.

  • Stanley Flemmings

    Typographical error: emensely. Correct spelling: immensely.

  • kennis

    Too many sheep in Washington. They all think they’re smarter than the people they represent, and yet continue to be led down the same old path, and grabbing all the pork they can hold onto. DISGUSTING.

  • Sarah WHO ?

    Sad to admit – but both the Democratic and Republican candidates have completely tipped their hands to the American public.

    That neither has come out “in front” against this plan tells me that McCain is neither a Maverick and Obama has no other creative thought in his body except to go along.

    Heck – even if they simply voted against the bailout would have positioned their respective campaigns as being somehow different – irrespective of whether or not they had a solution.

    That neither of them has siezed this political highground speaks volumes about the next four years we have to look forward to.

  • Jessica V. Cortez

    Boxer and Feinstein both lack political fortitude. This, coupled with condescending, fear-provoking tones aimed at Californians merits their farewell.

    They’ve lost my vote, along with Obama (& McCain).

    I support Nader 2008. Enough is enough.

  • Sarah WHO ? and Jessica V. Cortez,

    Both of you hit the nail right on the head. This presidential campaign has turned into the big false debate.

    “Counrty First” and “Change”… “Yes We Can” and “Straight Talk”… Who are these people kidding?

    For being the best Country on Earth, our choices for President sure are limited!

  • Rodomont

    Save banks and big corporations so they can lend our own money back to us so it can “trickle down”, and devalue the existing money we have in our pocket as well. Nice job.

    Next time, pour oil all over us and light a match.


  • Robert Sterling

    You lost my vote! Come November, I hope you and Feinstein find yourselves out on you butts, looking for work like the rest of us…..

  • Zoe

    What Can we common Poeple do about the Bailout? Nothing.. we just have to wait and see if the company comes up and develops new cars and prototypes to please the americal consumer