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Lawmakers fear consequences of crisis and bill's failure

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Gazette Staff
September 30, 2008

Paul Ryan has been studying economics all his life, and he’s never seen a situation like the one the country faces now.


That’s what Congressman Ryan, R-Janesville, told WCLO Radio on Monday afternoon after the House of Representatives rejected a $700 billion bailout bill by 23 votes.


“I think now we’re going to sort of see the consequences of what happens, the consequences of this bill going down,” Ryan told WCLO. “What it means to our 401(k)s, our IRAs, our ability to get loans, businesses’ ability to get money to make payroll and other things. This is going to be a shock to our system.”


Ryan spoke passionately in favor of the bill on the House floor Monday after Republicans and Democrats spent the weekend working on a compromise bill.


Rep. Tammy Baldwin also voted for the failed measure, putting her and Ryan in the rare position of being on the same side of an issue.


“Today's legislation was not perfect, but it was a significant improvement over the unacceptable blank check requested by President Bush a week ago,” Baldwin said.


Baldwin, D-Wis., spoke to The Janesville Gazette from an airport Monday on her way home to Madison after the House voted against a bill to bail out the nation’s financial system.


Baldwin said the collapse of the nation’s investment banks was a shocker, and now it’s conceivable that her constituents in the 2nd District could start suffering.


Ryan told the House the original bill asked for a “blank check” for the treasury department. But he said both parties worked to put taxpayer protections, cost-sharing measures and executive compensation limits in the bill.


“This bill offends my principles,” he said. “But I’m going to vote for this bill in order to preserve my principles, in order to preserve this free enterprise system.


“This is a Herbert Hoover moment. He made some big mistakes after the Great Depression, and we lived with those consequences for decades. Let’s not make that mistake.”


Ryan criticized the White House and legislators who voted against the bill in his speech on the House floor and a news release sent out Monday. He accused those voting against the bill of caring more about keeping their jobs than protecting taxpayers’ jobs.


“In light of the political expediency of my colleagues and the horrendous failures of the Bush Administration, we will have to roll up our sleeves and go back to the drawing board to enact a meaningful solution to our financial crisis,” he said in the release.


Baldwin raised the specter that small businesses wouldn’t be able to get loans and meet payroll, so people wouldn’t get their paychecks.


Other possible effects before long could be an inability to get student loans and a severe loss of pension value, Baldwin said.


Baldwin said that if the financial markets, lenders and banks react negatively to Monday’s vote, she expects to be called back to Washington as early as Thursday.


On the other hand, “if we don’t see signs of distress, there is probably not a reason for Congress to reconvene to take another try at this,” Baldwin said.


Baldwin said she couldn’t understand why the vote failed. She said key members of both parties, from both House and Senate, had seats at the table as the deal was negotiated.


Also at the table were the Federal Reserve chairman, Treasury secretary, John McCain and Barack Obama, Baldwin said.


Baldwin said everyone headed for the airports right after the vote, so there was no chance for her to find out why so many members of the House voted against the bill.


Baldwin noted that the Senate was scheduled to be in session Thursday: “We’ll be watching them and watching the markets and the other financial sectors that are in financial distress right now,” she said.



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