Monday, September 29, 2008


Your phone calls did the trick—House rejects bailout

by Larry Geller

You called, you emailed, and the House today rejected the bad, bad bailout bill.

He [Rep. Neil Abercrombie] said that of the nearly 1,500 people who called, faxed or e-mailed his offices in Honolulu and Washington, only 11 people supported the bailout plan. [Honolulu Advertiser, Abercrombie, Hirono both vote no on bailout, 9/29/2008]

Unhappy. Why isn’t this man smiling?

Both House leadership and the Bush administration were confounded by resistance to passing the controversial $700 billion bailout bill.

The measure, which is designed to get battered U.S. credit markets working normally again, needed 218 votes for passage. But it came up 13 votes short of that target, as the final vote was 228 to 205 against. About 60% of Democrats and fewer than 33% of Republicans voted for the measure. [, Bailout plan rejected - supporters scramble, 9/29/2008]

Many bloggers, advocacy groups and even Michael Moore urged ordinary people to contact their congressional representatives and oppose the bailout as it is now formulated. In a huge e-mailing, Moore said:

NOTHING in this "bailout" package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.

As long as he said it, let me interject his next two paragraphs, which link healthcare to the financial crisis:

Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What's this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?

It has everything to do with it. This so-called "collapse" was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people's home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it's because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn't afford. Here's the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills . Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage "crisis" may never have happened.

Relief for individuals was taken out of the bill. Dennis Kucinich snitched on the Democratic Caucus in his interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now this morning:

AMY GOODMAN: Congressman Kucinich, can you explain how it is that the Democrats are in charge, yet the Democrats back down on their demand to give bankruptcy judges authority to alter the terms of mortgages for homeowners facing foreclosure, that Democrats also failed in their attempt to steer a portion of any government profits from the package to affordable housing programs?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Well, I mean, those are two of the most glaring deficiencies in this bill. And I would maintain there was never any intention to—you know, well, many members of Congress had the intention of helping people who were in foreclosure. You know, this—Wall Street doesn’t want to do that. Wall Street wants to grab whatever change they can and equity that’s left in these properties. So—

AMY GOODMAN: Right, but the Democrats are in charge of this.

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: Right. You know, I’ll tell you something that we were told in our caucus. We were told that our presidential candidate, when the negotiations started at the White House, said that he didn’t want this in this bill. Now, that’s what we were told.

AMY GOODMAN: You were told that Barack Obama did not want this in the bill?

REP. DENNIS KUCINICH: That he didn’t want the bankruptcy provisions in the bill. Now, you know, that’s what we were told. And I don’t understand why he would say that, if he did say that. And I think that there is a—the fact that we didn’t put bankruptcy provisions in, that actually we removed any hope for judges to do any loan modifications or any forbearance. There’s no moratorium on mortgage foreclosures in here. So, who’s getting—who’s really getting helped by this bill? This is a bailout, pure and simple, of Wall Street interests who have been involved in speculation.

And I don’t, for the life of me, understand why this is going to do anything to address the underlying problems in the economy, which actually had to do with the recklessness. This is what the president of the Federal Reserve Bank in Dallas said, that—and, you know, I might have the actual quote here. Listen to this quote: he said, “The seizures and convulsions we’ve experienced in the debt and equity markets have been the consequences of a sustained orgy of excess and reckless behavior, not a too tight monetary policy.” This is the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank president, Richard Fisher.

So, you know, we’re getting stampeded here to vote for something that doesn’t help homeowners, that doesn’t do anything about foreclosures, that doesn’t help those people who have been in bankruptcy and are looking for a way out. As a matter of fact, it made sure they can’t get out. So, who’s this for? It’s for speculators. It’s to play a game that provides some temporary help in the market, and, you know, you might see an uptick today if this passes the House. On the other hand, if it doesn’t, we need to be ready to find a way for Wall Street to address its problems without having to tap the increasingly diminishing resources of the federal taxpayers.

I would like to suggest one more call I’d like you to make. Please contact the Obama campaign. Their email form is here. Or email them at (I can’t find a phone number for the Obama campaign in Hawaii—does anyone have it?) Tell them that people’s homes must be protected, and the bankruptcy provisions and other protections must be included in any bailout bill.

Sheesh. Are we back to choosing the lessor of two evils again? Get Obama on the right track, please call.

The Associated Press understated public opposition to the bailout plan. In the article chosen for today’s Advertiser lead story, we find only

Lawmakers had to navigate between angry voters with little regard for Wall Street and administration officials who warned that inaction would cause the economy to seize up and spiral into recession.

“Angry voters with little regard for Wall Street?” Give me a break. It’s a government that has little regard for voters. It’s not only average people who objected:

Senator Richard Shelby went to the White House armed with a letter. The letter is signed by 200 economists, including three Nobel Prize winners, and warns Congress not to back the bailout. [ABC, Chicago area economists lead opposition to bailout, 9/25/2008]

For up-to-the minute news and the occasional action alert, keep on surfin’. The real news is out there if you look for it.

(please consider also supporting Democracy Now so that they can continue their great work.)

If you want to go further, here’s the list of congressional contacts again, it wouldn’t hurt to call them again and ask them to include protections for taxpayers and homeowners in any future bill:

Sen. Daniel Inouye:

Honolulu Office:

300 Ala Moana Boulevard, #7-212
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850
Phone: (808) 541-2542
Fax: (808) 541-2549

Hilo Office:
101 Aupuni Street, #205
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Phone: (808) 935-0844
Fax: (808) 961-5163

Wailuku Office:
24 North Church Street, #407
Wailuku, Hawaii 96793
Phone: (808) 242-9702
Fax: (808) 242-7233

Kaunakakai Office:
PO Box 573
Kaunakakai, Hawaii 96748
Phone: (808) 642-0203
Fax: (808) 560-3385

Lihue Office:
1840 A Leleiona Street
Lihue, Hawaii 96766
Phone: (808) 245-4611
Fax: (808) 246-9515

Kealakekua Office:
PO Box 4l
Kealakekua, Hawaii 96750
Phone: (808) 935-0844
Fax: (808) 961-5163

Mililani Office:
94-403 Punono Street
Mililani, Hawaii 96789
Phone: (808) 623-8334

Sen. Daniel Akaka

Honolulu Office:
300 Ala Moana Boulevard, Room 3-106
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850
Phone: (808) 522-8970
Fax: (808) 545-4683

Hilo Office:
101 Aupuni Street, #213
Hilo, Hawaii 96720
Phone: (808) 935-1114
Fax: (808) 935-9064

Rep. Neil Abercrombie

Honolulu Office:
300 Ala Moana Boulevard, #4-104
Honolulu, Hawaii 96850
Phone: (808) 541-2570
Fax: (808) 533-0133

Rep. Mazie Hirono

Honolulu Office:
5-104 Prince Kuhio Bldg., 300 Ala Moana Boulevard
Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
Phone: (808) 541-1986
Fax: (808) 538-0233


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