by John DeSio
Riverdale Review 10/02/2008
Congressman Eliot Engel was one of the 205 Congressional supporters of the proposed bailout plan for Wall Street that was met with defeat on Monday.
The $700 billion bailout plan lost by a vote of 228-205, with a conglomeration of conservative Republicans and left-wing Democrats banding together to defeat the bill.
Elsewhere in The Bronx Congressman Joseph Crowley voted to supported the measure. Congressman Jose Serrano, representing the South Bronx, was one of 95 Democrats to vote against the bill.
Following the vote, Engel called the bill's failure a "great disappointment."
"This was a loss for all Americans," said Engel. "I voted for this measure because I believed it was in the best long and short term interest of the nation."
Engel said that the failure to pass the bailout would have extremely dire effects on the economy of not only New York, but the country as a whole. While the bill was not perfect, said Engel, it was the best bill we had.
"Unfortunately, there were members today were more interested in voting their ideology saying it was 'my way or the highway,'" said Engel. "Other members appeared to be certain to vote 'no' on any version. This is not leadership; this is crass politics."
Engel added, "The reaction of the stock market shows that the markets were waiting for leadership, and instead they got politics."
Engel said he was hopeful that a different rescue plan could be developed to save Wall Street and the New York economy, and urged Congress to act as soon as possible.
"I remain hopeful a rescue package will promptly return to the House floor for a vote, as this crisis is not going to magically disappear overnight," said Engel. "The city, the state, and the nation are waiting."
Serrano explained that he voted against the bill because he felt it did not do enough to protect the average American.
"I understand the need to shore up our nation's big banks to prevent a larger problem, but I cannot support such an action if it does nothing to help the millions of people facing foreclosure," said Serrano. "Leaving them out of this package is shortsighted and guarantees that we will have to address the problem in the next Congress."
Serrano added, "We must face the fact that the crisis in Wall Street stems from a mortgage crisis on Main Street. If we only bail out Wall Street, we have not addressed the root cause of the problem."
The congressman called the bailout a tax on his constituents, and said his people should not have to pay for the mistakes of Wall Street.
"Where was this concern over the past year when our communities have suffered from the mortgage crisis? For them we were told: 'they got in over their heads and must take responsibility for their actions.' But when the rich bankers get in over their heads, we're told they must be rescued," said Serrano.
Serrano continued, "The other downside for working families that no one is mentioning is that when the bill for this bailout comes due, we'll be told that we cannot afford many of the programs that help regular people—programs like healthcare and education. So not only are we ignoring them now, but we'll be forced to ignore them in the future as we pay off the debt from this package. That's a bad deal twice over."
The congressman added that he could have supported a more balanced bill.
"I am sad to say that it was not balanced," said Serrano.