Rep. Mark Udall, stumping in Edwards Sunday, came as close as he’ll likely ever come to saying “I told you so,” comparing his two “no” votes last week on the financial bailout package to his dissent on the Iraq war and the Patriot Act.
The subsequent and precipitous plunge by the stock market on Monday only gave the Eldorado Springs Democrat, who’s running for U.S. Senate against former Republican congressman and oil-and-gas executive Bob Schaffer, more ammunition.
“Let’s go back to work and make sure this can work as best it can, and when the new Congress comes in, we have to reform the entire architecture of the financial services market,” Udall said of the $700 billion bailout. “Look, I hope I’m wrong, but this felt to me like to the lead-up to the Iraq war and it felt to me like the lead-up to the constraints that were put on our civil liberties, most notably with the Patriot Act.”
Udall voted against both the authorization for the Iraq war in 2002 and the 2001 bill that would eventually become the Patriot Act.
Sunday, before a crowd of approximately 50 supporters at a rally in front of a Mexican restaurant, Udall outlined four key reasons for the economic crisis, including a runaway federal deficit requiring a huge injection of foreign capital; lack of oversight of the subprime mortgage industry; the loosening of SEC rules governing the investment banking industry, and no intervention by the Bush administration until it was too late.
“This administration is always a day late and a dollar short,” Udall said. “We had a war with no plan, we suffered a hurricane with no response, we had a financial meltdown with no oversight, and when they did respond it was after denying, denying, denying.”
Udall said that the bailout doesn’t direct mortgage companies to rewrite loans to help homeowners in danger of being foreclosed on; that it still leaves too much leeway for golden parachutes and massive compensation packages for executives of faltering Wall Street firms, and that it doesn’t lean heavily enough on the advice of the nation’s top capitalists, like billionaire investor Warren Buffett, who suggested preferred stock positions be used to inject liquidity right into the banks.
“The bill went over to the Senate [after being rejected by the House Monday] and came back basically unchanged, with another $150 billion [in tax breaks] in it with some things that we all need and support, but in the interest of standing firm and staying consistent, I voted ‘no’ again,” Udall said.
In a brief interview after his speech Sunday, Udall defended his rather docile debating style during a Sept. 28 appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in which Schaffer continually and aggressively interrupted and even occasionally shouted Udall down. Udall faces another televised debate with Schaffer tonight at the University of Denver.
“I’ve debated Bob close to 10 different times and we have another five or six to go — I’ve seen a lot of different Bob Schaffers — and I made a decision on the spot to be respectful, to be thoughtful and to show the people watching that the Senate needs more people who are going to listen and work together than it needs people who are going to filibuster and shout,” Udall said.
He also commented on a poll last week showing he’s a whopping 21 points ahead of Schaffer on Colorado’s typically more conservative Western Slope.
“The people on the West Slope know my record; they know I’ve defended their water on the West Slope; they know I’ve defended their way of life out here; they know I’ve lived out here; and they also know I’m for responsible energy development but not at the sake of our air and water and our wildlife and our other economic interests like tourism, hunting and fishing, guiding.”