Panel Previews House Vote on Rescue Bill

Panel Previews House Vote on Rescue Bill

FOX News Special Report With Brit Hume - October 2, 2008


REP. STENY HOYER, (D-MD) HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: Obviously, one of the conditions for bringing that bill to the floor will be to ensure that we have the votes. We have no intention of failing again to pass this legislation.

ROY BLUNT, (R-MO) HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: The other day we were a handful of people short, or a double handful. Since then, a lot of members have begun to hear from their local bankers for the first time, that they're really beginning to feel the credit crunch, and we need to do things that help the economy right now.


HUME: And so Congressman Blunt and Congressman Hoyer, both members of the leadership in their respective parties, now hope that the votes will be there to pass this financial rescue package when it reaches the House floor, and it is expected to do so sometime tomorrow.

Some thoughts on all this now from Fred Barnes, Executive Editor of "The Weekly Standard," Kirsten Powers, columnist of "The New York Post," Bill Kristol, Editor of "The Weekly Standard," and Mort Kondracke, the Executive Editor of "Roll Call, FOX News contributors all.

All right, Mort, what's your take, your sense on the bill tomorrow? Will it pass and should it?

MORT KONDRACKE, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "ROLL CALL": It should, and I think it will.

Look, a lot of the opposition on Monday, when it failed, were weather vane voters, and the wind was blowing hot and heavy against this bill. People were hearing from their constituents like 80 to one against.

Then, when they defeated the bill, the stock market lost a trillion dollars in value in one day, and they began hearing, as Roy Blunt said, from community bankers, and stuff like that. The wind has shifted on this.

And, moreover, the two presidential candidates both picked up their act and both said this has got to pass, and they both voted for it in the Senate, so they have got cover there.

And the last thing is that there is a lot in the Senate bill to like. I mean, for liberals, there's mental health parity. For lots of rural people, there is aid to schools. There is an ATM fix.

HUME: That is the Alternative Minimum Tax, which was put in the tax code to hit the rich, but now because of lack of indexation, it hits a lot of people who aren't rich.

KONDRACKE: Right. And there are six or seven states, I forget how many, where they have no income tax, and up till now people have been able to deduct sales taxes in those states. This would permit that to go forward again--

HUME: To continue.

KONDRACKE: To continue. And if it didn't happen, those people in those states would not be able to deduct their sales taxes.

So there is a lot for lots of people to like in this bill.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": I think it will pass tomorrow. I thought it would pass, Monday, of course.

"You can take that to the bank," to use an unfortunate metaphor in these times.


KIRSTEN POWERS, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK POST": Yes. I think it will pass, and I think that, you know, it is interesting what you were saying, the wind has shifted, and we have seen pretty much the lack of leadership that we have in Washington, that now at least they are hearing from people they want this to pass, and so, hopefully, they will.

The blue dogs are making a lot of noise--

HUME: The blue dogs being conservative Democrats who are worried about the budget.

POWERS: Exactly. They are worried that things aren't paid for, they are threatening to disrupt the rules vote, all sorts of things.

But I think that, ultimately, most people think they will have to go ahead and vote for it. At least the ones who voted for it in the first place can't turn around and say they won't vote for it now over a few things they don't like.

FRED BARNES, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": They could. I don't care about the mental health parity, and some of the other things that don't belong in there.

On the other hand, we have a crisis, and we need to do something.

And, look, I think there is still a lot of opposition out there. Admittedly, I agree, it sort of turned, but there is a lot of opposition, particularly among conservatives.


HUME: What is your opinion, by the way?

BARNES: What I was going to say is if there is no vote, that is almost as bad as a vote against it, because it will mean the votes are aren't there, the market will crash.

But what are these people--when they look around, do they think the lack of this legislation is not having an impact? We have a stock market crash and credit markets freezing up. You can't sell a car, it's hard to sell cars because you can't get credit.

Our economy is falling apart, and they're saying "No, we have to bait around, and this is too expensive," or "We need to end mark to market," or some of those things. Those excuses are crazy. It better pass.

HUME: Let me ask you this question, Fred. You're none unsympathetic to the conservatives in the House of Representatives, and the noisiest opposition to this measure has come from conservatives in the House. Give me your thoughts on the quality of their arguments.

BARNES: I think their arguments are idiotic and myopic. It is as if they are operating from some ideology that says we cannot interfere with the free market by having the government do more.

But, look, Ronald Reagan would do this. Alexander Hamilton did it. When you have an economic, when you have a financial crisis that threatens to blow up the economy and put America in a deep recession or worse, that's when government is supposed to act.

If you're a libertarian and you don't believe in government, that's something. But those Republicans are not libertarians. They're just nuts.

POWERS: What I thought was interesting was seeing the reporting that there were actually people that were surprised that the stock market crashed. And you had these members of Congress suddenly realizing oh, my gosh, something will happen because of the vote that he we had.

I'm not an economist, but that really wasn't much of a shock to me. And there is this disconnect that they have, where they think that the voters should call and tell them what to do.

But this is not where to put a stop sign. This is about our economy. And that's why they have to be leading on it. They can't just be thinking that we're just going to stick it to Wall Street.

KRISTOL: The stock market goes up and down, and it will go down and there will be a recession. It went down today quite a lot even though the Senate passed the bill overwhelmingly.

HUME: Yes, but there was a real dose of economic bad news-bad jobless number, other bad news. The credit situation tightened, worsened.

KRISTOL: That's the point, though. The administration has done a bad job of explaining the problem. The problem is not that the stock market--

HUME: Yes, but why, in a situation like this, why should it be necessary for these members of Congress who, after all, hold hearings, they're supposed to be informed, they're supposed to read and know what is going on in the country, to have to be sold on something this major in this serious of a situation?

KRISTOL: Look, I think it should have passed. I would have voted for it the first time, and I certainly would vote for it tomorrow.

But I do think the originally drafted bill was kind of an embarrassment-two and a half pages. An overview--

HUME: That wasn't a bill. That was just the outline-

KRISTOL: The proposal that they released--that was the first blush, and that was the thing that began to gin up the opposition.

I think everyone has shown some failures of leadership here, but I think it will pass tomorrow.

But I think people shouldn't kid themselves. It doesn't mean there won't be a recession. It doesn't mean the stock market might not go down. It doesn't immediately resolve the credit crisis. The Paulson bill by itself does nothing about the immediate problem of bank runs and credit tightening. Hopefully prospectively it loosens things up.

But I think people do now have the sense that it is a genuine crisis and to do nothing is really, really dangerous.

HUME: And what effect do you think it will have, Mort, that the credit markets and the players within the credit market will be aware that there is a huge amount of government money about to be expended to absorb these so far unsellable, "toxic," as they're called, assets?

KONDRACKE: The theory is that they're going to loosen up credit because they're going to be able to unload their bad paper, that they're going to be--and if this market to market adjustment gets made so that they don't-

HUME: That's an accounting rule.

KONDRACKE: But they don't have to write down their net worth to zero, that should free up credit

But that's a theory, and we hope it's correct.

HUME: Last word, Fred.

BARNES: Let me just say one other thing about House Republicans. The ones who I think are the smartest and most impressive, Eric Cantor and Paul Ryan, and Mark Kirk, who is Mort's favorite, John Campbell of California--these are the one who have been in favor of it. They just haven't been able to convince a lot of their colleagues.

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