Dutch Ruppersberger got five minutes last night with Shepard Smith on Fox News, defended the $700 billion bailout, saying it was an investment in the nation's future, and he closed out his interview by saying, "It's not a bailout." Smith kind of snickered at that statement, saying, "Not a bailout, huh?" Dutch voted for the measure and pledged to keep working for its passage. Meanwhile, Rep. Elijah Cummings was one of two Maryland Democrats -- the other, Donna Edwards -- to vote against the package.
Here's Cummings' statement:
"When I leave my home in Baltimore every morning to drive to D.C., I am struck by the disastrous effects of the last 8 years of Bush-McCain economic policy. Homes that were once occupied by families living the American Dream are now boarded up because of foreclosures. Neighborhoods are falling apart. Individuals are suffering at the gas pumps, at the grocery stores, and in line at the unemployment office.
"Now, we face the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression. There is no doubt that a strong federal response is necessary, but any response must contain strong oversight and accountability measures, assistance for the families who are in jeopardy of losing their homes due to predatory lending, and safeguards against golden parachutes for Wall Street executives. Congress simply cannot bail out Wall Street while at the same time bailing on Main Street.
"I do not believe that we have explored or exhausted all possible options to directly ease the pressure on financial markets without causing an undue burden to taxpayers. This legislation just does not provide enough relief and protection for the hardworking men and women who are trying to make ends meet.
"In addition to the acquisition of some of the financial system's sound assets, any federal initiative should include federal capability to restructure mortgages for the men and women who are trying so desperately to keep their homes and salvage their families' dreams. It must also include a substantial allocation toward initiatives that are proven to directly stimulate our economy—such as extended unemployment and food stamp benefits.
"I am deeply concerned that there is no requirement that Wall Street take responsibility for the mess it helped to create. There is no meaningful limitation on golden parachutes for executives—who are still making millions of dollars a month even as average Americans continue to struggle to stay afloat. I am concerned that the board created to oversee this bailout is not offered the power to stop any irresponsible or questionable action. I am concerned that there are no safeguards against taxpayers being overcharged to buy these assets—or any guarantees that they will profit from these investments in the future.
"While the federal government must act to keep our economy out of jeopardy, I am concerned that this proposal is lacking key provisions to protect taxpayers. Any measure we adopt must include strict oversight and safeguards against giving blank checks to corporate executives whose poor judgment has led us down this road, and that provides substantial relief to the millions of Americans who continue to suffer under the overbearing burden of our current economic state."
Here's part of Edward's statement:
"This bill was vague and contained more dressing than substance for working Americans. It gave the Secretary of the Treasury unparalleled purchasing power of any financial instrument without adequate, enforceable oversight. There were no guidelines in this bill directing the Secretary as to how or which troubled assets to buy. The bill did not address how or when the government would sell the purchased assets back in the market. Despite the positive provisions of this bill that help tenants, the provisions to help homeowners were not mandatory; they were discretionary. Finally, the Economic Stimulus bill which passed the House and included real benefits to working Americans such as extending unemployment benefits, providing additional food stamp assistance, and investing in infrastructure to create good-paying jobs is effectively dead.
"The $700 billion allocated in this bill would have constrained us from addressing the real needs of this country such as implementing universal healthcare coverage, a clean, secure energy future, and quality education for our children. I look forward to working to strengthen our financial markets by bringing strong regulation and oversight back to the markets. I will work to regulate hedge funds and the credit industry. I will fight to give bankruptcy and real foreclosure protection to homeowners.
"I commend my colleagues for their hard work during these difficult times. We were handed a set of bad ideas from the President and Treasury Secretary Paulson and good people have tried to make the best of it. This was not the best we could do for taxpayers, homeowners, or small businesses. "