During a radio debate tonight the two major party candidates in Iowa’s fourth congressional district quarreled over the Wall Street bailout bill that cleared congress last week.
Congressman Tom Latham, a Republican from Ames, said he voted against the bill because he didn’t want to give the U.S. Treasury Secretary a blank check. “The Department of the Treasury was asked, you know, ‘On what basis did you come up with the $700 billion?’ They said, the spokesman said, “Well, we sat down and had to come up with a really big number,’ Latham said, ” and no other basis for that.”
Becky Greenwald, the Democrat from Perry who’s challenging Latham’s bid for an eighth term in congress, initially opposed the bailout, but Greenwald said she changed her mind about the package after talking with retirees. “I had a conversation with a woman in Mason City…She’s about ready to retire…and she realized that she was going to be impacted by this,” Greenwald said. “The idea that the CEOs on Wall Street were going to go off a cliff, but there’s a rope tied around their ankle and we’re at the other end of that rope and we absolutely needed leaders in congress to come in and put a floor under this and stop the bleeding and make sure that we were doing what we could rather than standing by and just doing nothing.”
Greenwald accused Latham of backing deregulation of the financial industry, and she said that’s what caused the current financial meltdown. “It’s that hypocrisy of talking about at home, ‘Well, I am bipartisan and I am going to make sure that I work across the aisle and get things done for the people of Iowa,’ and then go to Washington and actually have one of the most partisan voting records of all,” Greenwald said, “and Tom Latham’s record stands for itself. You know, he’s voted 94 percent of the time with President Bush and the Republican Party.”
Latham shot back. “The idea supposedly that my voting record is somewhat partisan — it’s just a matter of, you know, whose partisanship do you like?” Latham said. “When you look at Senator Harkin, (Congressman) Boswell, Congressman Braley, Congressman Loebsack — all have much higher partisan voting records than I do, but apparently it’s O.K. if you’re partisan one way but you’re not the other.”
Next, Greenwald countered that Latham should have backed the bailout because it included money for flood victims in Iowa. “How can you turn your back on those people when we need as much money to come in here take care of those folks as possible?” Greenwald asked.
Latham suggested those kind of “add-ons” to the bailout bill were sure things on the congressional agenda in November. “Anyone who doesn’t believe that the tax portion — the additional $110 billion that wasn’t paid for on top of the $700 billion — wasn’t going to pass just doesn’t understand that no one in congress is going to go home, when we go back in November and we’re going to back in session that would be passed and put in place for next year.”
Last night’s debate was sponsored by WHO Radio. The two candidates are scheduled to meet again on Friday in a debate hosted by a Mason City radio station.