Tonight, Oregon Senate candidate Jeff Merkley weighed in on the recent passage of the Paulson bailout proposal. When Paulson first proposed his three page bill, Jeff came out forcefully against it. When Democrats and Republicans went back to the drawing board and dressed it up, Merkley opposed it because it didn't go far enough to protect homeowners and the American taxpayer. And, when the Senate decided to add tax cuts and other provisions to dress it up, Merkley stood strong in his opposition to what he believes is a bad bill.
Full disclosure, I am the netroots director for OR-Sen candidate Jeff Merkley
No need for me to say more, here's what Jeff had to say about the bailout passing the Senate:
"I commend Ron Wyden for standing up for taxpayers and doing what is necessary to restore accountability on Wall Street. The easy thing to do would have been to vote yes on this bill.
I have dedicated much of my life to advocating for consumers and I believe it is just wrong to spend $700 billion of taxpayer money to bailout the very Wall Street financiers who created this crisis. This bill will allow those same executives to walk away with golden parachutes, while doing nothing to end the abuses of oversight that caused this mess or help working families who need their own economic rescue. This proposal is badly flawed and adding a number of important unrelated items, no matter how worthy, does not fix the problems with this bailout.
While we must act quickly to avoid further instability in the market, we must also act prudently to ensure that the medicine doesn't make the patient sicker. Last week I laid out clear principles to address this crisis. To protect taxpayers we should require that the government only purchase distressed assets from American companies and not foreign banks. Second, CEOs on Wall Street who created this crisis should not be walking away with millions in their pockets. I want a deal that provides sufficient oversight and accountability of our markets. And we cannot ignore the suffering on Main Street, sidelining our homeowners and allowing deceptive practices to lead more families into bankruptcy.
Like Congressman DeFazio and Senator Wyden, I am committed to the Secure Rural Schools Act and will fight each and every day for Oregon's rural communities. Now my opponent will attack me and say I am opposed to county payments and various tax cuts, but absolutely nothing could be further from the truth.
This is what they do in Washington. They take a bad proposal and add $150 billion of sweeteners to satisfy enough people. This is not how to solve problems.
The crisis on Wall Street and the need for a bailout is an indictment of the failed economic policies of Gordon Smith and George Bush. Their philosophy resulted in unimaginable abuses and excesses on Wall Street and now Washington is making taxpayers clean up the mess. Congress and the Administration should go back to the drawing board and come back with a proposal that prevents more economic pain for families and small businesses and meets some minimum standards to protect taxpayers and guarantee accountability on Wall Street."
Republican Gordon Smith said Merkley's opposition to the Bush bailout was a "profile in cowardice." Nothing could be further from the truth. Senator Feingold and Senator Wyden wanted to fight for a better bill. They wanted to protect homeowners and have real market reforms to help prevent a similar crisis from happening in the future. Merkley is right, it wasn't an easy vote to oppose this bill, but it was the right thing to do.