Monday, September 29, 2008

Alaska Congressman Don Young Stands Up For Alaska Again, Votes Against $700 Billion Mortgage Bailout Bill

On his official campaign website, incumbent Alaska Republican Congressman Don Young talks about "standing up for Alaskans". Well, on September 29th, Don Young stood up for Alaskans once again when he courageously voted against the $700 billion mortgage bailout bill. Full stories published by the Anchorage Daily News, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, and KTUU Channel 2 HERE and HERE. National stories provided by CNN, CNBC, the Wall Street Journal, and CBS News. Click HERE for the result of a Google news search of the phrase "House rejects $700 billion bailout".

Congressman Young explained his vote by saying that Alaskan sentiment was overwhelmingly against the bill. He said that 99 percent of the 500 Alaskans who called his office to express their opinions asked him to vote against the measure. Later, his spokeswoman, Meredith Kenny, said that Young's offices in the state and in Washington have received "well over 2,000 phone calls" from Alaskans, with roughly 95 percent against the bailout. The measure failed, 205-228.

Click HERE to view the results of the roll call vote. By party, favoring the bill were 140 Democrats and 65 Republicans. Opposed were 95 Democrats and 133 Republicans.

Click HERE to view the proposed 110-page bill in PDF format. If wading through it is too daunting a task, CNN Money provides a quick breakdown of some of the bill's key provisions.

Young faulted the Democratic leadership for bringing the bill to a floor vote without the necessary votes. "(House Speaker Nancy Pelosi) very frankly underestimated the opposition on this," he said. A sharp attack on George W. Bush by Pelosi just before the vote is believed to have driven just enough Republicans to vote No to prevent passage.

While Young also said that his vote could conceivably change if there is a major shift in public opinion in Alaska, he is philosophically opposed to the bailout, believing that no version of the bill would be consistent with America's free-market principles. He considers it socialist. Young said he preferred the government to offer to insure mortgage-based investments or find private capital to buy up the risky loans instead of asking taxpayers to shoulder the burden.

If the Senate votes to pass the bill on Wednesday October 1st, pressure would increase for the House to do the same on Thursday or Friday, Young said, "especially if the stock market goes in the tank". Alaska's two senators, Ted Stevens and Lisa Murkowski, are likely to vote for it because although they have reservations about the bailout plan, they believe it must be passed in order to avoid a sharp economic downturn.

Analysis: Comments posted to the various Alaska news stories verify what Don Young was hearing. Many people look upon it as Main Street vs. Wall Street; some viewed it as an opportunity to level the playing field between the two entities. And many simply don't want to cut the economic elite any slack. A KTUU "unscientific" poll bears this out; in response to the question, "Has today's 780-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average increased your support of a bailout of financial markets by Congress?", 77 percent voted No, and only 23 percent voted Yes.

So many Alaskans look upon Wall Street as a bunch of parasites who need to be taught a lesson, even though the stock slide will decrease Permanent Fund revenues. The Fairbanks Permanent Fund, which they use to help pay for city operations, has already taken a $1.4 million hit. The last-minute revelation that Washington Mutual CEO Alan Fishman could get $19 million for three weeks work, albeit with conditions, didn't help the cause of those pushing the bailout, although it was Fishman's predecessor, Kerry Killinger, who presided over WaMu's demise. Too many similar stories have turned Main Street against Wall Street.

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