Senator Chuck Grassley says Iowans don’t seem that wild about the $700 billion Wall Street bail out the Bush Administration is urging congress to quickly endorse. "I’ve had overwhelming opposition calls coming into my various office in Iowa as well as Washington, D.C.," Grassley told reporters this morning during a telephone conference call.
Grassley isn’t ready to say whether he’ll vote for or against the deal. "I can’t say that I’m satisifed or even made up my mind up yet," Grassley said. "…This is kind of uncharted territory — at least from the side of it, it’s uncharted. The question is how small business, farmers and families will be impacted by what’s done or not done for Wall Street and whether or not the massive-scale proposal from the treasury secretary which might not be the end of it, by the way — that worries me — is that the way to prevent an economy-wide credit crunch that would hit Main Street America."
Grassley, the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, suggests having the federal government acquire all those bad mortgages might not be a losing proposition, however. "This may not end up over the course of a couple years costing the taxpayers anything if we take this paper in at a lower level, you know, very discounted and then the price of property goes up and we put it back on the market, the federal government can make a profit, but we’re not sure of that," Grassley said, "so I don’t want to mislead my constituents and say that there might not be some costs to the taxpayers."
Grassley points to the federal government’s action 25 years ago when there was a bail-out of the Chrysler Corporation, as the federal government made a $300 million profit on that deal a few years later.
According to Grassley, there is a "panic unfolding on Wall Street" but taxpayers must be protected. Grassley supports limits or caps on the salaries of executives in the companies that are to be bailed out by the feds. "I mean, we’re talking about companies that are belly up," Grassley said. "Their management should not be rewarded. They don’t need to be giving out campaign contributions. They don’t need to be hiring lobbyists."
Former Iowa Congressman Jim Nussle, the president’s budget director, went to capitol hill with Vice President Cheney this morning to meet privately with House Republicans.