Thursday, October 2, 2008

Collins Bailout Primer

Here's a rundown of Sen. Collins' evolving stance on the bailout bill over the last eleven days:

--Sept. 21: In the first debate of the Senate race, when asked about the deepening crisis, Susan Collins cautions that more regulation isn't the answer. She calls for "extensive oversight hearings" and "market discipline."

--Sept. 22: Collins says she's against "a rush to act on this bill so we can adjourn this weekend." She adds: "We've got to carefully look at what happened and why."

Her main substantive proposal is for the bailout legislation to include tighter regulation of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, even though neither entity is party to the bailout. She doesn't explain why focusing on these institutions--only peripherally related to the expanding Wall Street meltdown--would prevent the crisis from boiling over.

--Sept. 23: Collins blames Democrats for the crisis. She cites the Senate's failure to pass the 2005 Federal Housing Finance Reform Act--which Rep. Allen voted for in the House.

(At the time, this charge had already been rejected by the bill's author, former Rep. Michael Oxley (R-CA). He blames the White House for the bill's failure.)

--Sept. 24: Collins lays out requirements for the bailout legislation, calling for executive compensation curbs, oversight and "protections for taxpayers. (Those requirements echo a set of principles spelled out days earlier by Rep. Allen.)

--Oct. 1: Ten days after she called for extensive oversight hearings that haven't materialized and nine days after she stressed the importance of including tighter regulation for Freddie and Fannie regulation in the bailout--a measure that appears not to have made it into the legislation--Collins announces that she will support the bill.

She does so just hours before a vote on the bill was scheduled, and only minutes after the bill's details are made public.

Later in the day, it emerges that the bill includes billions of dollars in provisions unrelated to the bailout, including tax breaks for "motor-sports racing tracks, makers of wooden arrows for children, and the rum excise tax for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands."

Her vote can be viewed here.

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