Fingerpointing continues on bailout failure

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

WASHINGTON (AP) ó Members of Congress traded more recriminations Tuesday over the stunning House vote that killed a $700 billion financial system, while insisting thereís still time to get an acceptable deal.
But Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican who voted against it, said she still believes Republicans and Democrats can come together on a bill, perhaps by this weekend.
ěWeíre committed to finding a resolution to this, and I think by weekís end we will have a solution to this problem,î she said on CBSís ěThe Early Show.î
Democratic Rep. James Moran of Virginia retorted that he believes House members should have supported the plan on Monday instead of voting it down.
When asked about scores of Democrats who also voted no, Moran replied that the Democratic caucus did not want to ěown this bill.î
Rejection of the legislation on a 228-205 vote caused the largest selloff on Wall Street since the day after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Moran said that he believed there was an understanding by both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio., that the two party conferences could muster at least 110 votes apiece ó enough to put the bill over the top.
Blackburn said that lawmakers are still concerned about the level of public obligation ó or taxpayer commitment ó to the bailout and said ěthat is why we have worked diligently. … This is something we canít leave on the table and leave Washington. This is something that affects every man and woman, every family in this country.î
Moran blamed Republicans for the billís failure ó it lost on a 228-205 vote ó saying the Democrats ěwere willing to hold the vote openî so that people could change their minds. ěI donít know where the (Republican) leadership was,î he said.
Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga., who voted against the bailout, said he thinks ěitís important to get this vote right, not necessarily to get it quick.î
ěWe are principled in the fact that we believe we ought to stick to American principles, we ought to protect the taxpayer, we need to make sure that private money, private equity can get involved and have Wall Street bail out Wall Street, not on the backs of the taxpayers,î Price said on NBCís ěTodayî show.
ěAnd we need to make certain that thereís an exit strategy,î he said, ěso that thereís not a huge, massive bureaucracy that grows up around this. Iím positive and hopeful that weíll be able to get to this by the end of the week.î
Two other lawmakers ó Reps. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., ó called on the Bush administration to get the Securities and Exchange Commission to change accounting rules to loosen up the credit crunch.
ěWe have to look for something that will make the markets function in the way that they should, not reward bad behavior,î Kaptur said on ABCís ěGood Morning America.î
She also had a message for Wall Street: ěCalm down. Donít panic. Donít be led by fear.î
Musgrave said the House would come together later this week to find a bill that members could pass.
ěWe know that inaction is not the answer. Weíre coming back to work on Thursday,î she said. ěWeíre trying to come up with the very best solution for this country and the responsibility we feel is to pass a good bill.î
Both lawmakers said the SEC should change accounting rules to ease the credit crunch, which Kaptur said ěis really at the heart of some of the anxiety of the market.î
Specifically, they want the commission to change existing ěmark-to-marketî rules that require companies to value their holdings at what similar securities have recently sold for ó in some cases pennies on the dollar, when the assets get marked down. That hurts the companiesí balance sheets, which could cause some to fail.