Holding our reps accountable: stances on the bailout

House and Senate negotiators say they reached an agreement on the basic framework and principles in the national financial bailout. Some say the bill could be voted on and passed in the next few days, but plan details are not public quite yet. Although the Minnesota delegation can't comment on the specifics of the bill until it's released, we wanted to look back at some of their comments from this week to gauge their opinion on a possible bailout package. Check under the jump for a state round up.

Background: The Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee hashed out the details of a $700 billion package proposed by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve to buy up bad debt in hopes of preventing a meltdown on Wall Street.

Sen. Christopher J. Dodd (D-Conn.), chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, said the group reached fundamental agreement on a set of principles including protection for taxpayers, effective oversight, help for homeowners facing foreclosure and limits on the compensation of executives whose firms take bailout money, according to the Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/25/AR2008092500268.html?hpid%3Dtopnews&sub=AR

What have Minnesota lawmakers (and some candidates) said about the proposed plan so far? Clips gathered from local and national publications.

Sen. Norm Coleman (R) Read previous Blotter posts for some recent coverage.

While the federal government has sometimes made money off past bailouts, he's not looking at the plan as "a profit center" and that his bottom line is ensuring that any bailout will protect taxpayers.

Coleman said that executives shouldn't benefit and that taxpayers should have equity in distressed firms. But he strongly opposed a foreclosure moratorium and allowing bankruptcy judges to adjust mortgages. That would result in higher interest rates and reduced credit for home buyers, he said. -Star Tribune

Al Franken (DFL candidate) Franken offered six conditions without which, he said, he would reject a bailout: congressional oversight, ownership stakes for taxpayers in companies seeking relief, no golden parachutes for executives, restoring regulations, a moratorium on home foreclosures and creation of a financial product safety commission. -Star Tribune

Dean Barkley (Independence Party candidate) Barkley said that he would hold his nose and reluctantly vote for the bailout. "I just hope it doesn't become a Christmas tree," he said.

The bailout package should mandate congressional oversight and bar benefits for executives, he said. A foreclosure moratorium, on the other hand, would chill the mortgage market and is a bad idea, he said. -Star Tribune

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) "It’s too quick, too soon, and appears to put the tax payers at too much risk." -The Hill

Rep. Keith Ellison (D) Ellison warned that without a rescue package, "we risk economic collapse — not only on Wall Street, but on Main Street as well. Like others, he strongly rejects the Bush plan. He also labeled as "ludicrous" a Republican suggestion that lending to low-income areas fueled the crisis. -Pioneer Press

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R) Read recent Blotter post for recent coverage.

Faced with a looming bail-out of the financial sector hovering around the $700 billion dollar mark, I’ve signed a letter written by Congressman Joe Barton (Ranking Republican on the House Energy and Commerce Committee) urging the President to consider opening up ANWR and the Eastern Gulf of the OCS to improve our energy security, lower energy prices, and provide needed revenue to the Treasury to help shoulder the burden the bail-out will place on the American taxpayer. The bailout should also include a budget freeze. -The Hill

Rep. Jim Oberstar (D) However, the urgency of this situation does not abrogate the duty of Congress to protect the interests of taxpayers. Most Americans have to submit more paperwork to qualify for a home loan. The Bush Administration’s proposal gives too much spending authority to the Treasury Secretary without enough transparency and accountability. We need to make certain that none of the bailout money is used to pay for multi-million-dollar golden parachutes for the Wall Street CEO’s that got us into this mess. The rescue package must also include independent oversight, and protection for homeowners. -The Hill

Rep. Betty McCollum (D) "I don't know of anybody who likes the president's plan," she said. "We are in an economic crisis, and we could be facing the collapse of our financial system." -Pioneer Press

Rep. John Kline (R) "We will comment when we review the final package," said his spokesman, Troy Young. -Pioneer Press

Rep. Jim Ramstad (R) Ramstad said in a statement he opposes the Bush bailout plan, but he made several suggestions that he felt would improve it. Until then, he said, "I am prepared to oppose the administration's bailout plan." -Pioneer Press

Rep. Tim Walz (D) Walz issued a statement that didn't say whether he'd support or reject a bailout plan, but he did urge caution and said he hoped to protect middle-class Americans. -Pioneer Press

Rep. Collin Peterson (D) Peterson is unsure what to do. "There's questions about whether it's going to work," he said. "There's questions about whether it just tries to perpetuate the system that got us into this mess. There's a question of whether we're being stampeded into something here that would get us into worse trouble if it doesn't work. So I don't know. It's a big damned mess, I'll tell you that." -Pioneer Press

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