Leslie Turk

Open Letter to Boustany: reverse your vote

by Leslie Turk

Dear Congressman Boustany,

Many of us who have been following the nation's economic crisis and Congress' attempts to bail out troubled financial institutions were surprised when we heard the House's 228-205 defeat of the bill yesterday. We were also disappointed that you, our U.S. representative, voted against the bailout. While we understand what was presented to you is not the perfect solution and that both parties have failed miserably to explain why this legislation is so important to every single person in this country (regardless of age or class status), we need you on this one. We really need your support and vote in order to instill hope, confidence and trust in the economy.

This is an immensely complicated issue that defies TV sound bites or lends itself to simplistic talk radio analysis. In fact, we couldn't agree more with your statement that government intervention should be a last resort, but we disagree on the urgency of this issue. We must immediately pass legislation that will inject cash in the market with some flexibility to come back and refine the legislation to ensure that checks and balances are in place to protect investors and taxpayers.
There is a good chance taxpayers will make money on this if it's done right. No one is asking you to write a check for $700 billion in bad debt. Wise men and women of every political and ideological stripe are calling for adoption of a plan that removes these toxic assets from the balance sheets of these failed and troubled financial institutions. Perhaps the most respected businessman in America, Warren Buffet wholeheartedly supports the bailout plan. "It's what I would do if I were there," is the message he sent to Congress. Other experts who have studied these distressed financial assets say much of them can be successfully, albeit slowly, sold off -- quite possibly at a profit to taxpayers.

Please realize there is no other option outside of some kind of federal bailout and that your indecisiveness is compounding the problem. Yesterday's historical drop in the Dow is only one indication of what's to come.

We urge you to rally your colleagues to follow suit and support this legislation. Surely the grown men and women of the U.S. House and Senate can find common ground and remove the political air that has permeated this process. We wholeheartedly believe you can put politics aside to do the right thing; there is too much at risk to do otherwise. History will undoubtedly reward you for reversing your vote and doing what is right for our country as a whole. It will not reward you for taking what is without question the most popular path, evidenced this morning by listeners calling into KPEL while you explained your opposition.

As local experts see it, the current risk to the markets and the economy is unprecedented for our time. This is about Main Street, not Wall Street. Jobs by the hundreds of thousands, small businesses, IRAs and 401Ks -- all are in jeopardy.
A banking system in crisis cannot do business. Credit tightens and in some cases dries up. This affects businesses from Wall Street to Main street. A credit crunch, if not addressed, has the potential to absolutely shut down an economy. Since so much of our financial and credit system is based on confidence, once that confidence is shattered, it is difficult to jump start it once again. We are at that stage right now.
"I'm not one to quote Pat Buchannan often, but I heard him comment on this situation recently, and I think he hit the nail on the head," says Bo Billeaud of Billeaud Capital Management. "Sometimes it is necessary to save a few pigs in order to prevent the wholesale slaughter of the sheep."

Billeaud continues, "Unless the Congress and Charles Boustany can get a package approved quickly, I have an idea that everyone who stood on principle and fought this will soon know just how costly that stand was. It is truly a case of cutting off your nose to spite your face."

Congressman Boustany, we recognize this is an election year for you and that you want to listen to the wishes of your constituents. Please understand that your vote will affect those working class and middle class voters, the very people who called into KPEL this morning and are adamantly opposed to this measure now. They will suffer most by the very position they are asking you to take.

Here in Acadiana, we are resilient. We made it through the oil bust, and we continue to weather storms that devastate our coastal communities year after year. Oil's been good to us lately, so we may be lying to ourselves about our immunity to the nation's economic debacle. The harsh reality is that this issue is much bigger than any of us knows at this moment. And whether you realize it or not, what you decide to do in the next few days will define your legacy.