Leslie Turk

Like Boustany, Landrieu & Vitter just don't get it

by Leslie Turk

Here we go again. On Tuesday we urged U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany to reconsider his opposition to the Wall Street rescue package, which would clear troubled assets from the books of financial institutions reeling from home foreclosures. We pleaded with him to do the right but unpopular thing by supporting the bailout, thereby beginning the process of busting up our nation's huge frozen credit markets to stem the tidal wave of our oncoming recession.

While we understand the legislation he voted down was far from perfect -- rejected 228 to 205 by the House -- doing nothing about the dire financial situation facing our country is simply not good enough. Boustany, however, has a chance to redeem himself and vote for a Senate version of the bill that is better this time around.

Let's hope he does not follow in the footsteps of his U.S. senators.

This morning we are even more troubled by U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, who broke with bi-partisan Senate leadership and the majority of her fellow senators to vote no, buckling under the pressure of election year politics. We understand politics, but we don't accept that she put her personal political ambitions ahead of the country's best interests. Even without Landrieu's and U.S. Sen. David Vitter's support, the measure overwhelmingly passed the Senate 74-25. Wiser heads prevailed, understanding the urgency of restoring confidence in the U.S. economy.

The Senate's primary change to the plan the House rejected Monday is an increase in the amount of bank deposits that would be insured by the FDIC -- from $100,000 to $250,000. Like it or not, in order to ensure the bill's passage, the Senate included a number of tax breaks for victims of Hurricane Katrina and this year's storms, as well as renewable energy incentives. The bill extends until next August a tax credit for business that hire workers in Katrina-hit areas and another tax break that helps businesses that rehabilitate Katrina-damaged buildings. Additionally, the bill offers a series of tax breaks for victims of Hurricane Ike, including a low-income housing credit for Calcasieu and Cameron parishes.

All three of our congressional leaders have tried desperately to make a case for why they opposed the legislation (all have statements on their Web sites), and while we know the legislation is far from perfect, we believe their arguments are short-sighted. They fail to understand that their inaction will affect working class and middle class voters, the very people who are adamantly opposed to this measure now. The very people who will suffer most if this legislation does not pass.

Boustany, Landrieu and Vitter just don't get it.