A departing Democratic lawmaker says his party is paying a political price for doing the right thing and working to rescue the economy from the financial collapse of 2008.
In an interview with The Hill, US House Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA) defended the Democrats’ decision to support the $700-billion TARP bailout of the Wall Street banks, which was signed by President George W. Bush shortly before he left office.
The representative from Washington’s 3rd district said the Democrats could have played games with the economy, letting the financial collapse run its course and blaming the whole thing on the previous administration.
“We could have said, ‘The economy is going to collapse. The world is going to go into a depression. You’re going to get the blame and your party is going to get the blame because you’re in power and we are going to ride this into the majority for the next 40 years.’ That is what the Democrats could have done,” Baird said.
“Had we wanted to, we could have let the president, President Bush … stew in his own juices.”
He noted the Democrats “got punished” for supporting the bailout, but “there are a lot of American families and working families who would get clobbered if [we] didn’t pass TARP.”
Baird’s logic seems to borrow a book from his Republican opponents, who have been accused of opposing economic aid — such as the extension of jobless benefits — in order to help their own electoral chances when the public blames the incumbent administration.
However, allowing an economic crisis to cascade in order to blame the previous White House is a risky and debatable strategy. Baird, considered a conservative Democrat, has not shied away from controversial opinions.
Following his electoral loss in November, Baird lashed out at the leadership of his party.
“I told people we would screw it up,” he reportedly said. “You should never underestimate the power of liberals to shoot themselves in the foot.”
Of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, he said, “She doesn’t listen to other people. She only listens to people she agrees with unless she needs your vote.”
Seattle Weekly notes that Baird has a fairly conservative voting record. He opposed health care reform in its early stages, and voted for President Bush’s Iraq surge and against the Medicare prescription-drug benefit passed under the Bush administration.
However, unlike most of his centrist and conservative Democratic colleagues, Baird has been a strong advocate for Gaza and the creation of a Palestinian state.
Baird is expected to run for the US House again, in a different Washington state district, in 2012.
Here are 3 winners and 3 losers from the 2020 Democratic presidential primary debate
Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined the other leading Democratic presidential primary candidates Wednesday night in the fieriest evening of the race so far.
His presence on the stage drew fire from the other candidates, but it also seemed to change the overall tone of the debate, with more attacks, counter-attacks, and passion than was generally seen earlier in the campaign.
Here’s a (necessarily subjective!) list of the winners and losers from the fray:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — Warren hit her stride right as the debate started by attacking Bloomberg for his record on the mistreatment of women, racist policies, and his tax returns. She repeatedly came back to skewer the former mayor, making herself the biggest and most notable presence in the debate. But importantly, she also continuously brought the discussion back to the issues she cares about — like expanding health care, environmental justice, and consumer protection — while getting in digs at the other candidates on the stage.
Michael Bloomberg ‘lost everything’ in Las Vegas: MSNBC analyst
Senior editor for "The Root," Jason Johnson, concluded that the biggest loser of the Democratic debate in Las Vegas Wednesday was Michael Bloomberg, but not merely because of his debate performance.
"The big new name was going to be Michael Bloomberg," he said. "This was probably the most expensive night in Vegas I've ever seen. He lost everything. This guy has spent $320 million. He had the opportunity to stand on stage, and appear to be an equal, and he looked bored. He looked disenchanted. He stumbled over obvious questions that anybody would have anticipated about sexual harassment and stop and frisk. I thought it was a bad night for him."
Pro-immigration protesters interrupt Joe Biden’s closing statement at debate
Former Vice President Joe Biden's closing statement was interrupted by protesters at Thursday night's Democratic presidential debate.
As Biden began his remarks, demonstrators began shouting about the Obama administration's record on deportations.
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 20, 2020