Tuesday, September 30, 2008



We think: Members who voted down the rescue plan put politics first
September 30, 2008

It's hard to say what's a greater threat to the economy right now: the shortage of credit in the U.S. banking system, or the shortage of courage in the U.S. House.

House members who voted down the compromise rescue plan for the system Monday put their own re-election prospects ahead of the health of the economy. It's as simple as that.

The no-voters dismissed warnings from financial leaders and economists that a failure to pump money into the banking system to restore credit flows could bring on a deep recession and cost millions of American jobs. Instead, they wilted under pressure whipped up by demagogues on the left and the right.

Meanwhile, major national banks are failing or being forced into mergers. The country's largest insurance company has gone belly up. Stock markets are plummeting.

The impact of the crisis is being felt locally. Westgate Resorts President David Siegel told the Sentinel that a sudden shortage of credit would force him to lay off hundreds of employees, despite record sales. Other businesses will falter or fail if they can't get loans to buy supplies and make payroll. Consumers who can't get mortgages or car loans also will suffer.

We share Americans' anger over the need to put up taxpayer dollars to save the economy. Congress and regulators have failed miserably in overseeing the financial markets.

But the plan before the House on Monday had been significantly improved since it was first proposed. Lawmakers had added provisions to help taxpayers recover their investments and stop executives from enriching themselves at public expense.

Still, some of the members voting against the plan used alternate proposals as fig leaves, insisting that they were holding out for a better approach. Don't be fooled. Only the bipartisan plan negotiated by the White House and party leaders had a realistic chance of becoming law quickly enough to stop the financial system's bloodletting.

Among the eight members representing Central Florida, only three -- Democrat Corrine Brown and Republicans Dave Weldon and Adam Putnam -- had the guts to vote for the plan. Five voted against it: Republicans John Mica, Tom Feeney, Ric Keller, Cliff Stearns and Ginny Brown-Waite -- all running for re-election.

They let down their constituents and their country.

Copyright © 2008, Orlando Sentinel

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