September 29, 2008

Ryan invokes Hoover as House rejects bailout

Was there any suspense at all about how U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, 1st District, would vote on Wall Street's economic bailout bill?

Well, just a teeny bit. He had, after all, opposed the three-page, no-oversight-just-gimme-the-damn-money proposal originally put forth by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. But at the same time, Ryan's votes throughout his career are in lockstep with the Bush administration.

So how'd he vote? He voted yes. Here are some quotes from Ryan this morning, prior to today's vote, and at bottom his reaction to the House's failure to pass H.R 3997, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which failed 205 - 228. BE SURE to read the final sentence of Ryan's statement, the one where he refers to "the horrendous failures of the Bush Administration." (Ryan said that? Yup. Who would've thunk it. Is he trying to have it both ways: For the bill but against the administration that brought it forth?)

"In an impassioned speech on the House floor this morning, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he was "offended" by the Bush administration's original three-page bill that asked Congress to give Paulson a $700 billion check without any oversight.

"Ryan urged Congress to vote on a compromised version of the bill today, "Because this Wall Street crisis is quickly becoming a Main Street crisis."

Ryan said, "We added 107 pages of taxpayer protection to this bill." The additional provisions will ensure that taxpayers will be the first to be paid back when the economy recovers and that Wall Street will share the risks, Ryan said.

If the emergency plan is not approved, businesses may lose access to funds to meet payroll for their employees, students may lose access to loans for college and seniors may lose have access to their savings, Ryan said.

Ryan said, "This is a Herbert Hoover moment," referring to the Republican president who was in power as the nation plummeted into The Great Depression. "I think the White House bumbled this thing … We have to deal with this panic. We have to deal with this fear. We're here. We're in this moment," Ryan said. "If we fail to pass this, I fear the worst is yet to come … I believe in all my heart, as bad as this is, it could get a whole lot worse."
Politico quoted Ryan saying:
“This sucks,” Ryan told his colleagues, according to people in the room, before telling Republicans that one of his local banks failed shortly after he withdrew money for his campaign.

(RacinePost finds nothing about any "local" bank failure. We contacted a Racine banker who suggested: "I don't know of any local banks that have failed. He may have had money in WAMU or Wachovia, though." WaMu is Washington Mutual, which was acquired last week by JP Morgan Chase in a governement-assisted takeover. Wachovia was acquired today by Citigroup.)

Politico also said Ryan fielded phone calls in recent days from President Bush and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
Nebraska TV had this additional Ryan quote:
He adds that lawmakers are worried about being voted out of office if they vote for the plan. Ryan says the general attitude among his colleagues is, "I want this thing to pass, but I want you to vote for it, not me."
The website Donkelephant ("Big teeth. Huge Ass. Surprisingly reasonable.") had Ryan's Herbert Hoover quote this way:
“This bill offends my principles but I’m going to vote for this bill in order to preserve my principles… to preserve [the free enterprise system]. This is a Herbert Hoover moment.. he made mistakes during the Great Depression… Let’s not make those mistakes… If we fail to do the right thing, heaven help us—if we fail to pass this I fear the worst is yet to come.”

This is the same Paul Ryan who was against the bailout a few days ago and led the House revolt that McCain gave credence to. Well, that is until he eventually backed away from the House Republicans.

So what happened?

Well, note that Ryan says the bill will “preserve [the free enterprise] system.” There’s really no other way to read that than Ryan has realized that the free market has failed in this instance and the government needs to save it.

What’s more, while he says the bill “offends” his principles, he probably also now understands that the vast majority of these mortgages are actually really good investments and the taxpayers could ultimately benefit quite a bit if we can buy a bunch of these perfectly good mortgages for 40 to 50 cents on the dollar.

In the end, he was probably just scared $#!+less that he and 99 other Republican House members would be blamed for the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression. Because I don’t think his invocation of Herbert Hoover was on accident.
Paul Ryan issued the following statement after voting in favor of HR 3997:
“It is with deep disappointment and a heavy heart to have witnessed Congress’ failure to address the grave financial challenges we face as a nation. With an election looming, my colleagues in Congress thought first and foremost of their own jobs at the expense of the jobs of those they serve. I could not and did not accept last week’s proposal by the Bush Administration – an Administration that totally mishandled this situation. But instead of pointing fingers and standing idly by – as would have been the politically expedient thing to do – I worked to secure concrete protections for the taxpayer.

“Today’s vote was about stopping the Wall Street crisis from creating a banking crisis in our communities. The Bush Administration’s proposal was unacceptable, and the American people demanded an alternative solution be brought to the table. I joined my colleagues in putting forth an alternative economic rescue proposal and secured these taxpayer-protections in the final bipartisan agreement. I fought to make sure that once these troubled institutions start making profits, the taxpayers benefit first and foremost. I fought to make sure Wall Street executives don’t profit personally as a result of their irresponsible decisions. I wrote the provision that ensures that Wall Street shares in the cost of their own recovery.

“I supported this bill in order to stabilize our economy and to preserve American jobs. It is about Main Street – that Wall Street’s crisis doesn’t become Main Street’s crisis. It is about protecting working families’ access to credit – so students can secure college loans, farmers can buy feed, seniors can secure their retirement, and businesses can pay their employees.

“I am outraged that we find ourselves in this situation, and I have grave concerns for the state of our economy. In light of the political expediency of my colleagues and the horrendous failures of the Bush Administration, we will have to roll up our sleeves and go back to the drawing board to enact a meaningful solution to our financial crisis.”

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