I’ve just filed a story about U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s news conference this morning in San Francisco, wherein she touted the financial reform legislation now pending in the Senate. She made a point of citing the Senate’s 96-1 vote last week on her amendment providing that all financial companies put into receivership under the reform law shall be liquidated, with no taxpayer funds used to prevent such liquidation; only disposition of the company’s assets or a tax or fee on the financial industry could be used. That is, no taxpayer bailouts.
Former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, one of the candidates vying for the Republican nomination in June to challenge Boxer in November, issued a statement last week knocking Boxer’s stance:
“In yet another display of Election Year opportunism, Barbara Boxer today boasted about the passage of her amendment to the financial reform bill, pointing to it as an example of how she puts taxpayers first. Let’s be clear: her authorship of this amendment is more a reflection of the Democratic Party’s attempt to prop her up, rather than any sign of a core conviction. The truth is that Barbara Boxer has voted for every possible bailout, costing taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars. These measures have failed to create jobs and have resulted in higher deficits, more debt and will mean higher taxes.
“If Barbara Boxer is truly concerned about protecting taxpayers, she should stop her Election Year grandstanding and get down to the hard work of lowering taxes, cutting spending and minimizing uncertainty in the regulatory environment.”
Someone at today’s news conference asked Boxer whether she thinks voters will hold against her this year the government’s lack of oversight and foresight leading up to the financial sector’s collapse and resultant recession.
She also had already said in response to another question that the financial sector bailout bill that established the oft-maligned Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was passed at the behest of the Bush Administration, after then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson implored the Senate to do so lest the entire economy collapse. Although the big banks have repaid most of their TARP debts, she said, “absolutely there’s tremendous blame to go around.”
She had said she regretted not having done more to ensure the Federal Reserve used the authority it was given in the ‘90s to go after predatory lenders; she said the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that would be created by the pending legislation would be tasked only with such duties, whereas it was an ancillary duty for the Fed. “We need to now make sure all the powers we give this new agency are used in a fair and just way.”
But when the question of her re-election came up, she said she’s excited about her campaign and her record of fighting on behalf of consumers, families, workers and the environment.
“Will this be a hard race? Oh my God, yes,” she said, insisting she’s ready to take on whomever the GOP nominee turns out to be.
Recent polls show former Congressman, business-school dean and state finance director Tom Campbell leading Fiorina and Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-Irvine, in the GOP primary, and edging closest to Boxer in a hypothetical November match-up.