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Lee makes first floor speech: Urges Congress not to "rubber stamp"

By Philip Anselmo

Rep. Chris Lee read his first speech on the House floor last night to "urge Congress not to rubber stamp another $350 million in taxpayer funds for the struggling Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)," according to a statement released by his office this morning. TARP is the official name for the financial assistance package put together by the Fed last year to purchase the infamous "toxic assets" in the wake of the subprime mortgage crisis—better known to all of us as: the bailout.

(A quick aside here: Does anyone else see the irony in the acronym? Sure, a tarp can be strung over some poles and shade the backyard crew for a summer barbecue. But isn't a tarp more commonly found in the cluttered garage thrown over the broken lawnmower and the 80 pounds of manure still waiting to fertilize the garden out back that hasn't pushed out a bud in half a dozen seasons? Am I pushing this metaphor too far?)

We've decided to include the full text of Lee's speech here for you to glean from what you will. I'll keep my opinion out of this one. You can also view a poorly synched video of Lee delivering the speech, if you're not in the mood to read right now.

“Taxpayer dollars must be spent with accountability and transparency. To date, the Troubled Asset Relief Program – commonly known as TARP – has failed to meet this common-sense standard of fiscal responsibility.

“TARP was established last fall as an emergency plan to prop up the ailing financial markets. But today, we have far more questions than answers.

“Taxpayers have already lost $64 billion on the first round of investments made through TARP.

“The new administration has asked this Congress to double down on TARP and rubber stamp another $350 billion without credible assurances of future results.

“With a $1.2 trillion deficit on the books and a nearly $1 trillion stimulus package looming, these are resources we cannot afford to spend without responsible oversight.

“Western New York’s economy is in a perilous state. What we need right now is swift, bipartisan action that creates jobs and spurs future growth, not another bloated Washington program that overpromises and underdelivers.

“I hope my colleagues will reject any attempt to rubber stamp the TARP program and ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely, not wastefully.”

Chris Charvella

It's fine to come out against TARP, I'm not really in love with the idea myself, but one wonders what Congressman Lee's plan is to implement 'swift, bipartisan action that creates jobs and spurs future growth.'

It's easy to be against something, easy to rail against ideas and ideals that are not your own. The tough part of being a lawmaker is convincing your peers and your constituents that you have a better idea and then proving it.

I would hope that our new Congressman is prepared to introduce his own ideas on kickstarting a poor economy

Jan 22, 2009, 1:55pm Permalink
Patrick D. Burk

I am in complete agreement. At least Lee is getting some words in.... Like I have said before...he deserves our respect and a chance to perform.... Let's hope he does our well for our district.

Phil...any idea why my former post was not put on the web????

Jan 22, 2009, 2:46pm Permalink
Philip Anselmo

Pat: It's up now. Thanks for the reminder. I changed the timestamp, too, so it shows up at the top of the heap.

This happened to me the other day, with a post by Lori. I'll explain what I explained to her. When we switched back to our old format for the site, Howard and I lost a feature that listed on the left rail in real-time all the posts published by users other than ourselves so that we could be sure to get up the relevant submissions. We're hoping to get that back. Until then, we may miss a few here and there, so please do drop a reminder if you haven't seen yours go up and you feel it's one deserving.

I'm on throughout most of the day every day on Instant Message, so you can always catch me that way. My handle is: 'thebatavian'. That's in both AOL and Yahoo.

Thanks for your patience!

Jan 22, 2009, 3:04pm Permalink
Russ Stresing

I'm fine with giving the newly installed Senators/Congressmen/Cabinet members/President a grace period. It doesn't further their formidable task of crisis control to start in on them before they've assembled a body of work.

While I'm not near enough of an economist to understand what all needs to be done with the next spending installment, I do hope some of the money goes to free up credit and to directly address the housing crisis. My biggest concern is that the money will end up funding the same old ideas that got us into this mess instead of spurring us to move in new directions.

Jan 22, 2009, 4:23pm Permalink

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