House GOP 'bewildered' by financial crisis
It's been a confusing few days as conservative Republicans who support big business, tout the free market and decry big government intervention have watched a GOP administration propose a massive government intervention to prevent business collapses that could shatter the market.
A $700 billion bailout package is causing plenty of consternation for the minority party on Capitol Hill, which seems to be facing competing pressures from its political and ideological interests. Roll Call lays out Republicans' woes in a subscription-only report Monday.
Last week’s deepening financial crisis and the string of bailouts engineered by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke left Republicans bewildered, whipsawed and divided over how to respond.The paper's Steven T. Dennis outlines some of the rhetorical somersaults and near-instantaneous flip-flops that have marked prominent Republicans' attempts to address the crisis.
For example, House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) went from rallying against "more federal involvement in our markets" to supporting an $85 billion bailout of insurer AIG within just a few hours, Dennis reports. By week's end he was backing the administration's wider bailout plan.
Boehner’s turnaround matched that of GOP presidential nominee Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), who said “the fundamentals of the economy are strong” on Monday and then spent the rest of the week scrambling to get ahead of the unfolding crisis, even saying he would like to fire fellow Republican and former Rep. Chris Cox (Calif.) as head of the Securities and Exchange Commission. While the party's leaders were scrambling to find common ground on an approach to the crisis, some rank-and-file Republicans were less unified.
Some members of the Republican Study Committee, which represents conservative stalwarts, were decrying the bailout plan as a step closer to "socialism," according to Roll Call.
For their part, the Democrats did not exactly have an easy path toward a bailout bill, either, with many liberal members decrying packages they saw as geared more toward helping Wall Street CEOs than average Americans.
Democratic leaders are facing pressure from the White House to pass a bailout bailout package quickly, Politico reports, although several members are trying to attach provisions that would halt home foreclosures and curtail CEO compensation, among other proposals.