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Alexander:Congress needs to act now

Alexander:Congress needs to act now

Posted: Wednesday, October 1, 2008 9:16 pm


U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has called on Congress to clear up the “massive wreck” on the nation’s economic highway.

He made his comments on the floor of the U.S. Senate regarding legislation to address the credit crunch affecting communities across America.

“I hope we don’t have to wait for dozens and dozens of banks to fail, for payroll checks to bounce and for auto loans to dry up before the Congress decides we need to act. What we’re trying to do is to prevent a more serious problem by taking a measured response which will cost the taxpayers the least amount of money and clear up the economic traffic so it can start moving again.

“Some things, we take for granted: that the sun comes up, that our breathing will be automatic and that we’ll be able to get an auto loan or a student loan or a mortgage loan or a farm credit loan. Or that when we take our paycheck in and give it to the bank, that represents money. But what if that didn’t happen?”

“We end up with this massive wreck in the middle of the economic highway and all of the vehicles carrying our auto loans, our student loans, our paychecks are stopped while we in Congress stand around looking at the wreck instead of trying to get somebody to get it off the road so the economic traffic can proceed,” he said.

Alexander said the problem is “a Main Street problem” and legislators are elected to understand the problem and act before there is a crisis, not after there is a crisis.

“We’ve got to give the Secretary of Treasury enough money and enough authority to be able to buy all the junk in the middle of the economic highway and get if off the road and hope he is able to sell it for about what he paid for it, or at least to minimize our losses,” he said. “That’s why it’s wrong to call it a ‘$700 billion bailout,’ because he may need up to that amount to buy all this stuff in the middle of the highway. But he may buy much less. Then he’s going to sell these assets. There might even be a profit, which, under the plan, would go to reduce the federal debt.”

Alexander said Congress placed in the legislation some taxpayer protections to try to make sure they have clear oversight, that people don’t get “golden parachutes” as a result of the action, that Congress is involved and that there is a board of directors to whom the secretary must report.

“We don’t want to be guilty of having turned our backs and not paying attention to dealing with taxpayers’ money on this,” he said.

“I do not want to see a credit freeze come. I want to get the wreck off the highway. I want to get auto loans, farm loans and money for the payroll checks moving again. Then we can set about making sure we create a proper regulatory system for the kind of world in which we live.

“People don’t like this. They’re angry about it. I’m angry about it too, but I’m not going to just sit there and look at the wreck. I’m going to try to solve the problem. There’s going to be plenty of time to talk about who caused the wreck. Plenty of time to do that, but today we should fix the problem,” he added.

Alexander said the Senate has not finished its work on the economic recovery plans and plans to continue its work, completing it by the end of the week.

“That’s our intention. We believe that will happen,” he said. “We’re united in that purpose in a bipartisan way.”
Published in The Messenger 10.01.08

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