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Tri-State area lawmakers, residents have mixed reactions to bailout bill's failure

September 30, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The U.S. House of Representatives' decision to vote down a $700 billion Wall Street rescue plan drew mixed reaction Monday from local residents and elected officials.

While some people said they were worried the economy will suffer, others said it is inappropriate to spend taxpayer money to help struggling financial corporations.

"There's no way we should bail them out," said Kevin Whitfield, 62, of Hagerstown. "They were greedy, and it's their job to figure out how to get out of the mess they're in."

Early Monday afternoon, after a weekend of negotiations, the House defeated a bill that would have allowed the U.S. Treasury to spend as much as $700 billion to buy mortgages and other troubled assets held by banks and other financial institutions.

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Several local residents said they thought partisan differences prevented the bill's passage.

"I think it's sad," said Sarah Forester, 41, of Hagerstown. "It's politics, and they can't set it aside for one day and get something done when it matters."

All three local Congressional representatives voted against the proposal Monday.

In a statement, Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., said "rushing to bail out Wall Street won't protect Main Street."

"As I said last week, you can't privatize profits and socialize losses. You can't reward bad behavior," Bartlett said in a statement.

Rep. Shelly Moore Capito, R-W.Va., called the plan a "$700 billion bet."

"This is too much money, with too little time, too little support and no way to know if the plan would even do the job," Capito said in a statement.

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., said the proposal would put taxpayers on the hook for "Wall Street's failures" and would change the role of government in the country's free-enterprise system.

"This rescue plan could very well set our nation down the slippery slope towards socialism," Shuster said in a statement.

He said Congress should continue working "as long as it takes to get this done."

The House had been scheduled to adjourn for the year last Friday.

The Senate's adjournment date has not been set, according to the Senate Web site.

Maryland's senators, both Democrats, said Monday they were disappointed that Congress has not reached a compromise on the matter.

Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski criticized House Republicans, saying they "acted recklessly" in voting down the proposal.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin urged his colleagues to work out a solution before adjourning.

"I am angry that we have been faced with this economic crisis, but now is not the time to lay blame," Cardin said in a statement. "Inaction is not an option."

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