Writings and observations

Splitsville

Just fascinating the way the Senate delegations of all three Northwest states split on Bailout Mock II: Not just one one delegation split by party – Oregon – but also the usually like-minded Democrats in Washington and Republicans in Idaho.

The political headline here probably belongs to Oregon’s Gordon Smith, the Republican in the delegation, who voted in favor of the bailout. (Democrat Ron Wyden was opposed.) If the conventional wisdom about public attitudes toward the bailout is anywhere near right, he may wind up paying a price in a re-election contest that has absolutely no room for error. (Your take about whether this is a profile in courage or an exercise in foolishness may depend on how you view Smith and the bailout.)

Certainly his Democratic opponent, Jeff Merkley, was quick to pounce: “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.”

Might this be the vote that costs Smith his seat? Could be.

But maybe more interesting was with split within parties.

In Washington, where both senators are Democrats, Patty Murray (who is in Democratic leadership) voted in favor (it is “an attempt to keep an already bad situation from getting worse”), and Maria Cantwell was opposed (it would amount to “turning the keys of the U.S. Treasury over to the private sector”). On key items, Murray and Cantwell usually vote closely together.

And in Idaho, Republican Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo usually vote a lot alike, but not this time. Craig was for: “I am convinced this investment, which the Treasury should be able to recoup, will bring the stability to the financial markets that Idaho and the nation need.” Crapo (who serves on the Senate Banking Committee) voted no, saying taxpayers needed more protection.

What a partisan issue . . .

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