Local Politics

Local lawmakers say bailout was too rushed

Posted September 30, 2008 5:51 p.m. EDT
Updated September 30, 2008 7:56 p.m. EDT

— Two North Carolina congressmen say they voted against Monday's failed $700 billion emergency bailout for the nation's financial system because, in part, the bill was too rushed.

"It's just not the bailout of Wall Street. It's about saving our economy," Rep. G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat, said Tuesday at a ribbon-cutting at a new AT&T call center that will bring 400 jobs to Goldsboro.

"I am concerned about the cost of it and the fact that there is no mechanism built in to recover that money – that's problem No. 1," he said.

Butterfield, who represents the 1st Congressional District that includes Roanoke Rapids, Rocky Mount and Goldsboro, and Republican Rep. Walter Jones of the 3rd Congressional District, were two of nine of the state's 13 congressional members voting against the plan, which failed in the House of Representatives by a vote of 228-205.

The move caused the Dow Jones industrial average to plummet a record 778 points, beating the 684-point drop on the first day of trading after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Stocks, however, rebounded Tuesday, with the Dow up 485 points, and President George W. Bush warned lawmakers that a deal needs to happen or the U.S. economy could suffer painful and lasting damage.

The House is expected to reconvene Thursday to continue debate and vote on a revised bill.

But Jones, also at Tuesday's ribbon-cutting, said that without major changes, he doesn't expect quick action this week. He said he worries about whom the current plan would benefit most.

"I could not vote to obligate the American people, our children and grandchildren, to a $700 billion debt," he said. "The American people cannot continue to afford to bail out companies that, at one time, were successful, and maybe they got too greedy."

Despite Bush's warning, Jones said he and other lawmakers want to hold hearings and consult with experts to analyze the problems of the economy.

Many on Wall Street had expected the plan would help sweep away some of the fear and pessimism that has hobbled credit markets, which are where businesses turn to finance their day-to-day operations.

The bill's failure came despite lobbying by Bush and support from House leaders of both parties.

Immediately following the vote, Republican leaders blamed their failure to secure more votes on the partisan tone of Speaker Nancy Pelosi's pre-vote speech on the House floor.

"There were a dozen members who we thought ... we had a really good chance of getting on the floor," said Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio. "And all that evaporated with that speech."

Butterfield admitted politics also played a role in his vote.

"We on the Democratic side don't want to be accused of spending $700 billion in taxpayer money by the Republicans in the election," Butterfield said. "If we're going to bail out the financial markets, we're going to have to do it jointly."