"This really is the result of overregulation because the Community Redevelopment Act essentially required banks to make irresponsible loans to people who really couldn't afford to make the mortgage payments," he said.
"Regulation protects us," Jennifer Dougherty, Bartlett's Democratic opponent in the Nov. 4 election, countered. "Regulation creates a level playing field. Free markets end up picking our pockets."
She said she wouldn't have supported either version of the bailout bill brought before the House because the first handed too much power to the treasury secretary and the second was loaded with pork.
Bartlett said he favored alternate measures with provisions such as protection for money-market funds and unlimited protection for accounts in banks covered by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
At the forum, Gary W. Hoover Sr., a Libertarian also running against Bartlett, referred to the bailout measure as something "we should have never done."
"We should have let the market take care of the market," he said.
However, Hoover also said at the forum, referring to the financial industry, that "we weren't regulated enough in this area."
He reconciled those comments in an interview a few days later by saying he doesn't think the government should get involved in the workings of the market - although more regulation would have prevented the Wall Street collapse.
He said at the forum that members of Congress backed away from industry oversight because they were influenced by campaign contributions.
Dougherty backs a plan to let homeowners have their mortgages changed as part of the bankruptcy process, allowing them to stay in their homes.
During a recent interview, Bartlett said other parts of the U.S. economy are still doing well, such as automobile production.
"Just take a deep breath," he said. "The sky won't fall."
He said small business "always leads the way" toward economic growth.
Bartlett sits on the House Committee on Small Business.
He said during the Chamber forum that the U.S. can develop many new jobs as it moves toward renewable energy sources.
During an interview, Hoover called the key to economic turnaround in the 6th District "jobs, jobs and jobs - good-paying jobs."
New businesses and government agencies could be drawn to the area through tax incentives and by widening Interstate 70, he said.
Dougherty said in an interview that community colleges should get money to retrain people who lost jobs.
Life sciences and biofuels are good growth industries for the area, she said.
Dougherty promised one staff person committed to economic development issues for the district if she were elected.