October 01, 2008

Wyden Statement on Financial Bailout Package

Washington, D.C. U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued the following statement after voting against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008:

"Americans are hurting and Congress is rightly being called to action. But if history has taught us anything these last few years, it is that no matter how great the rush to judgment, Congress has an obligation to take the time to ask tough questions and make certain that the action it chooses is arrived at in a thoughtful fashion. This is particularly the case on those rare occasions when we are considering legislation of this magnitude.

"In 2002, Congress rushed through the process of authorizing the Iraq war, failed to verify the answers to the questions it received from the Bush administration, and five years later we have spent over $600 billion on the war in Iraq.

"Now, in 2008, we have been rushed into voting on a package that would spend $700 billion in a far shorter period of time to address the credit crisis that threatens our markets. In my judgment, the bill we are considering tonight leaves far too many questions unanswered, and misses the mark in addressing both the causes and potential cures for the current crisis.

"First, the bailout package provides help to large institutional investors who took foolish risks. Rather than extending assistance to get credit flowing at appropriate levels again to shore up confidence in our markets, it is likely that much of this money will go to those who don't deserve a taxpayer bailout for their miscalculations. Wealthy investors, who ought to know better, shouldn't be allowed to gamble with taxpayer money.

"Second, the Senate in this package is still failing to address any of the regulatory lapses that created an environment ripe for greed-driven abuses. There should, at a minimum, be a commitment to votes on reigning in the worst abuses that led to this crisis.

"And third, there is not one bit of assistance in this package for homeowners struggling to make ends meet. My constituents don't understand that, and neither do I.

"If even one of these issues had been addressed in this package, I might have been inclined to vote for it, despite its imperfections. I continue to think that Congress should act and help restore confidence - domestically and abroad - in U.S. markets. For that reason, I am voting against this bill tonight with great reluctance, and hope that the Senate is given a second opportunity, as the House will receive, to put forward a more thoughtful response that will deserve and garner the trust of the American public.

"This vote is made slightly more difficult by the late inclusion of my legislation to reauthorize county payments for four years. This was legislation that I authored over a year ago with the Majority Leader, as well as Chairman Baucus and Chairman Bingaman. Passing the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self Determination Act is vital to the economic survival of Oregon's rural counties, and I asked Senator Reid to include it in this bill, because I promised my constituents that I would attempt to attach it to every conceivable piece of legislation until the President signs it into law. But I also told Senator Reid that including funding for county payments in this package would not guarantee my vote on the bailout. The nation's future is simply too important for us to trade on even the most important constituent concerns.

"This makes the third time the Senate has voted successfully on my county payments reauthorization legislation. I would note that I am not alone in this situation, as my friend and colleague, Sen. Cantwell, championed the green energy tax extenders bill that is also passing as part of this bailout package. And while Sen. Cantwell also declined to vote for the overall package, I congratulate her on her extraordinary efforts to push the country toward a clean and independent energy future.

"In closing, I want to add that I understand the difficulty faced by the leadership on both sides of the aisle in moving forward on this effort. They have earned my admiration for the way that they have put partisanship aside in the interest of moving forward for our nation.