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Just say no: Akin's part of GOP group putting brakes on bailout

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: September 26, 2008 - As the financial bailout talks continue in Washington, U.S. Rep. Todd Akin wants to make sure that Congress doesn't feel a false sense of urgency and do anything rash with taxpayers' money.

Akin, a Republican from Town and Country, is part of the GOP study committee whose members have balked at the bailout plan put together by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.

Instead of a bailout, says Akin press secretary Steve Taylor, the congressman favors a plan that would involve a federally backed insurance program for ailing financial assets.

Details of such a program still need to be worked out, Taylor said this morning. "These are all pretty broad stroke proposals," he said in a telephone interview from Akin's St. Louis County office. "What's a non-starter for the congressman is using taxpayer dollars for a bailout.

"The House Republicans are really drawing a line in the sand. We really need to insist that taxpayers not be asked to pay for a bailout."

Noting that Akin's current stance is consistent with earlier opposition to assistance for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, Taylor said the Paulson-Bernanke plan gave too little power to Congress to have a say in how taxpayer money would be spent.

"The lack of oversight was very troubling," he said. "Giving such power to the treasury secretary was unpalatable."

He also said that Akin recognizes the need to approve some sort of action soon, but "he is very dubious of the 'we have to act now' type of approach. He has drawn an analogy to the used-car salesman who says his deal is only good until the end of the day. This is a serious issue; it would be a mistake to act rashly."

Sen. Christopher Bond, R-Mo., told MSNBC this morning that the plan appears to be moving forward toward a structure he would approve of, but it must move quickly. "I think we've got to make a deal," he said, "because as the president pointed out, we are facing a crisis that is going to affect every town, every family, every small business, every farmer in Missouri and across the nation.

"If we don't get a deal done this weekend, people are not going to be able to get loans, families may not be able to use their credit cards, small businesses may go out of business and workers may not get paid because their employers may not be able to make payroll."

Bond said he wants to see more accountability and transparency than the original proposal had, and he wants to make sure that Congress has more oversight and industry executives do not come away with golden parachutes.  

"This is the basic structure that's going to have to pass," he said. "This requires action. Making sausage and the law are never pretty. This is the legislative process up close and personal, but it's got to work."

Asked whether GOP presidential candidate John McCain had a hand in derailing the process on Thursday, Bond responded:

"Let's get this crisis solved, then we can get back into politics." 

Dale Singer began his career in professional journalism in 1969 by talking his way into a summer vacation replacement job at the now-defunct United Press International bureau in St. Louis; he later joined UPI full-time in 1972. Eight years later, he moved to the Post-Dispatch, where for the next 28-plus years he was a business reporter and editor, a Metro reporter specializing in education, assistant editor of the Editorial Page for 10 years and finally news editor of the newspaper's website. In September of 2008, he joined the staff of the Beacon, where he reported primarily on education. In addition to practicing journalism, Dale has been an adjunct professor at University College at Washington U. He and his wife live in west St. Louis County with their spoiled Bichon, Teddy. They have two adult daughters, who have followed them into the word business as a communications manager and a website editor, and three grandchildren. Dale reported for St. Louis Public Radio from 2013 to 2016.

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