Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The (Dis) Honorable David Wu

Here is the email I received today in response to all my emails, faxes and letters to congress during the bail-out. I guess some kudos are in order for the fact that he actually took the time to write me back. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that he voted for the bail-out the second time, having changed his vote. This email - although eloquently written, does NOT justify the pure and simple treacherousness of voting for the bail-out.

Dear Ms. Wendyworn:

Thank you for contacting me to express your concerns with the recently passed emergency financial rescue package. I appreciate knowing your thoughts on this issue.

I understand the outrage of those who feel this recovery effort unfairly benefits the individuals responsible for our current economic turmoil. I share your anger and the view that greedy Wall Street financiers made reckless decisions that brought us to our current financial crossroads. The tragedy of this episode in history, however, is that the fallout from their actions now threatens the livelihoods and savings of almost every American. I believe we must ensure that those who created this mess are held accountable. Unfortunately, we simply cannot ignore the facts: We can allow the economy to continue to slide further towards a serious recession in the hope that by punishing every American it will exact a toll on those responsible for the crisis, or we can take decisive action to put our economy back on track so that Americans can be confident that their jobs, retirements, and savings are secure. But at this point, we
cannot do both.

The Bush Administration has failed to create adequate regulatory policies and has permitted the financial services industry to engage in risky and imprudent decision-making without sufficient safeguards for the broader economy. It is regrettable that we must take a rescue action because of the greed of a few irresponsible individuals. But the consequences of inaction would have widespread and lasting repercussions for each and every American household. We are in an unprecedented time of economic turmoil, and our window of opportunity to act in a meaningful way to reverse the course of economic catastrophe is truncated and immediate.

I believe we must respond decisively to what now appears to be a serious threat to our economy. That being said, I strongly opposed the original three-page rescue package proposed by Treasury Secretary Paulson. I believe the Bush Administration's proposal would have ceded unreasonably broad authority to the executive branch without adequate taxpayer protections. I was also deeply disturbed by the Administration's proposition that the Treasury secretary be granted the authority to manage this rescue without any accountability. I was encouraged by the progress made by congressional leaders and the Administration in crafting the initial legislative proposal, H.R. 3997. However, I believed this legislation was not the right bill given the gravity of our current economic situation.

The House of Representatives considered H.R. 3997, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, on September 29, 2008. This legislation sought to provide the federal government with the authority to purchase and insure troubled assets in the financial market in an effort to stabilize the overall economy. While I supported this bill's overall aims, I believed taxpayers deserved better than the legislation. I voted against H.R. 3997, which failed by a vote of 205 to 228.

I opposed H.R. 3997 because I believe I have a responsibility to the people of Oregon to fight for a bill that treats both the symptoms and the causes of our economic illness as well as ensures that the benefits of this rescue are enjoyed by individuals at all income levels. I was chiefly concerned that this hasty bill put up taxpayer money without a commitment from the government that the American public would be paid back, and it failed to adequately ensure that the rescue package's relief would be felt by everyday Americans.

Following H.R. 3997's failure in the House, the Senate took up a revised financial rescue package that coupled the narrow economic rescue legislation negotiated by congressional leaders with targeted relief to taxpayers. For instance, the bill included a reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools program, otherwise known as county payments, which will provide a direct infusion of resources to Oregon's economy. By reauthorizing the county payments program, we are providing funds to hire teachers, healthcare workers, librarians, and others who provide vital services to rural communities across Oregon. In addition, the revised financial rescue package included a temporary increase in the bank deposit insurance limit from $100,000 to $250,000 -- a provision I believe will reassure Americans that their savings are safe. On October 1, 2008, the Senate passed the revised version of the Emergency Economic Recovery Act of 2008, H.R. 1424, by a vote of 74 to 25. Two days later, the House passed this legislation by a vote of 263 to 171.

I voted for H.R. 1424 because I believe the risk of doing nothing is too great. We face a serious threat to our economy, and action was essential to ensure that small businesses can continue to pay their employees, Americans will stop seeing the value of their retirement savings plummet, college students can get the loans necessary to continue their education, and working families across Oregon can have access to responsible home and car loans. A frozen credit market is simply not a situation that we can live with. I wish this bill had been revised further; but ultimately, we needed to act.

I realize that my vote in support of the economic recovery package will be disappointing to some. But I believe I have a responsibility to do what I think is in the best interest of our communities; and as painful as it was to cast a vote so many Americans disapprove of, I believe Congress ultimately did what was necessary. Although it did not go as far as I had hoped, H.R. 1424 did provide direct relief to ordinary Americans so that the benefits of this economic recovery package will be shared by both Wall Street and Main Street.

The emergency financial recovery package makes a crucial first step in resurrecting our nation's economy, but it raises a number of critical issues that I believe should be on the public agenda in the months ahead. The ideology of deregulation has eroded the safety nets that once protected taxpayers from the mercurial oscillations of the financial market. The Bush Administration's unbending faith in unregulated markets has facilitated a financial crisis that threatens every American family. This economic condition is as tragic as it was avoidable. The flawed paradigm that enabled the current economic crisis has exposed taxpayers to an unacceptable degree of risk, and I am committed to ensuring that this regrettable scenario never again threatens the
savings and livelihoods of American taxpayers. While I believe government should play a minimal role in the private market, I also understand that a fair competitive market that encourages innovation and efficiency requires a strong legal framework and effective regulation. Shareholder rights and out-of-control executive compensation are other issues that must be tackled by policymakers, the business community, and in the broader public discourse. The average corporate executive receives an annual salary 344 times greater than the average American worker. This degree of income disparity is simply unacceptable if we are to ensure equal opportunity for all Americans. H.R. 1424 made positive steps toward reigning in out-of-control executive compensation by placing limits on the salaries companies that seek government assistance may pay their executives while accepting taxpayer assistance. It also included important restrictions on so-called "golden parachutes" for CEOs whose negligence prompted their firms to need a government rescue. While this was an important provision to ensure taxpayer dollars are not used to subsidize outrageous corporate salaries, I also believe that Congress must further scrutinize the executive compensation practices so that the business community and shareholders can address this alarming trend.

I will continue fighting to protect the American people from harmful exposure to opaque financial markets and to ensure taxpayers are reimbursed for every cent invested in this recovery effort. I share your dismay at this unfortunate chapter in recent history, and I will be working to ensure this rescue is executed in the best interest of the taxpayers. While I regret that Congress was forced to intervene as it did, I am confident that our efforts will have helped to prevent an even greater economic catastrophe.

Thank you again for sharing your views on this issue. If you have further questions or concerns, please contact me at 503-326-2901 or 800-422-4003.

With warm regards,

David Wu

Member of Congress

It's too bad. I really liked him because he was always pretty good about writing me back. But regardless of the lovely words of this email. Those of us who are awake and aware know full well that this bail-out was a blood-less act of war and that in no way will it help the American people. Of course now in hind-sight we also know that the amount is well over 5 trillion dollars now, and no longer only 700 billion. But I advise everyone to vote out all those who voted for the bail-out, regardless of any flowery words of justification.

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