The bill was defeated by a vote of 228 to 205. Congresswoman Watson opposed the legislation and issued the following statement:
“I want to commend the Democratic leadership for their efforts to modify the Bush/Paulson bailout into something more acceptable. But I am still not convinced that this unprecedented plan is credible, accountable, nor will it work in its current form. I also do not believe that we have to act precipitously and without adequate debate and discussion of the current plan as well as credible alternative plans.
“My constituents are equally skeptical. Over the past three days, our Write Your Representative computer servers have been completely backlogged because the American people have been trying to reach their member of Congress to express their concerns about the bailout plan. My office has received over 1,000 emails and 1,000 phone calls. All, with the exception of one caller, are opposed to the bailout
“My constituents can rest assured that I am listening to their concerns, which is why I will oppose a bailout of Wall Street that will leave the vast majority of us on Main street holding a tab that will cost every man, woman, and child in the U.S. nearly $3,000. They can rest assured that I will oppose a plan that provides little equity to taxpayers, does not include any meaningful regulatory reform, spends billions on bailing out foreign banks, and provides unprecedented powers to a coterie of White House officials – some of them scions of Wall Street wealth and excess – to spend hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars.
“The Bush Administration has put the bailout on a kaleidoscopic fast track, saying that we must act immediately, and if we don’t, the financial markets may implode. But I am not convinced that legislation that is almost totally geared to rescuing banks and financial institutions, taking bad loans off their plate, is the best game plan. Why must we have a plan that bails out Wall Street but does little if anything to help homeowners — your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers – who are suffering at unprecedented levels with toxic mortgages they are unable to afford? Why should taxpayers’ money gush up to save the banks and investment houses rather than flow down to save their own houses, families, and communities? I believe that our government has a greater responsibility to help homeowners than it does to bail out Wall Street.
“As the focus of the bailout is misguided, so it is also lacking in any provisions on how this massive amount of money will be financed. Will it be the sole responsibility of taxpayers and not Wall Street? If this is the case, then the massive size of the bill will most certainly tie the hands of a new administration and severely limit its options in meeting our nation’s pressing needs, including upgrading a deteriorating infrastructure and improving the current inadequate health care system. No plan is a good plan that mortgages our future, severely limits policy options, and burdens our children and grandchildren with massive debt.
“For eight years, we have suffered under wrongheaded regulatory neglect of the current Administration, which has squandered a record budget surplus, spent $12 billion a month in Iraq, and now plunged our nation into an economic funk that will take years, if not a decade or more, to recover. As one of the last acts of the Bush Administration, the Wall Street bailout may put out of reach for the foreseeable future many changes in our economy and society that are needed if the U.S. is to remain competitive in the world and retain its superpower status.
“I have spoken with many of my colleagues. I have not yet heard from any Member of Congress whose calls and mail are running in favor of the bailout legislation in its current form. I stand with my constituents and the working class of America in opposing this legislation. I believe we must slow down, take a deep breath, and find the best and most equitable way to deal with this economic crisis.”