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30 September 2008

Unfiltered Thoughts on the Failed Bailout Bill

Yesterday, as I watched the votes against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 rack up on the U.S. House floor, I said to someone that as soon as Wall Street gets word of the bailout bill failing, the stock market is going to drop like a rock.

And that it did -- more than 700 points at the close of trading Monday evening.

Now I don't know if this $700 billion bailout package is going to work, but at this point, we've got to try something because doing nothing only makes matters worse.

There's a blame being thrown around on why the bill failed. Republicans are blaming Democrats. Democrats are blaming Republicans. But the truth is that both sides of the aisle share some of the blame.

When the President, the Speaker of the House and the leadership of both parties are supportive of any particular piece of legislation, you can usually guarantee and take to the bank the passage of that bill. That's not what happened yesterday.

Yesterday, despite being the majority party in the United States House of Representatives, the Democrats could not guarantee passage of the bailout bill. If 218 Democratic members of Congress had voted "yea", then the bill would have passed. So yes, the Democrats are to blame for the failure of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

Yesterday, 133 Republican members of Congress voted against the bill. Despite the legislation having the support of President Bush and House Republican Leader John Boehner, a majority of the minority party bucked their leadership and voted "nay." So yes, the Republicans are to blame for the failure of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 too.

Simply put, the leadership in both the Republican and Democratic parties failed.

They failed to deliver the votes they claimed to have in their back pockets. They failed to keep the members of their respective caucuses in line. They failed to know how many votes they had in favor of the legislation.

The goal was to pass the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. It was the common goal of Democratic and Republican leaders to pass that bill. They didn't accomplish their stated goal, so both the Democrats and the Republicans failed.

And now, instead of figuring out what went wrong, they're blaming each other for their collective failure.

These guys, Republicans and Democrats, need to get back to work. They need to talk to every last United States Representative that voted against the bill. They need to find out why 228 members of Congress buck their respective party's leadership and voted "nay" on the measure. And they need to do it fast.

My 62-year-old mother recently lost $80,000 in her 401k because of the drop in the market. The Times of India newspaper reports that within six hours of the bailout bill's defeat, stocks around the world lost $1.2 trillion in value [Source: Times of India, "US bailout rejected; 1.2 trillion lost in six hours", September 30, 2008].

That's real money. When trillions of dollars are lost within six hours, we don't have time to be playing these partisan games. We've got work to be done.

So in the words of Darth Vader, I'm saying to the leadership in Washington, "Don't fail me again."