Politics as Usual Played a Role in Bailout Bill Failure

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Here’s an interesting fact pulled from the AP about the bailout bill’s failure:

Thirteen of the 19 most vulnerable Republicans and Democrats in an Associated Press analysis voted against the bill despite the pleas from President Bush and their party leaders to pass it.

The article doesn’t say who these 19 are but this figure tells us something about the psychology behind the vote. I had hoped that most nay votes were based on principle but, as I dig into the matter, it seems typical politics played its usual role. Apparently, Nancy Pelosi gave a very partisan speech before the vote and some Republicans claim that’s why they voted nay. First of all, if true, Pelosi was foolish to give anything other than a “I’m glad we’re all coming together” speech. Anything less would be terrible leadership. That said, any Republican who changed his or her vote just because Pelosi was less than diplomatic is a childish fool.

So, it seems as if some representatives voted no simply because they were too scared of tying their name to such major and potentially risky legislation. And some voted no because they didn’t like a speech. Given that they all probably have money in the stock market, I wonder how they feel about their less-than-principled stand now?

To be clear, I fault not a single Republican or Democrat who voted no out of a principled objection to the bill. But any representative playing politics with such an important matter should be ashamed.

As an addendum, here’s the roll call, in case you were wondering.

Thanks to reader BenG for alerting me to the Pelosi speech angle.

  • Gaucho Politico

    here is the speech. Judge for your self if it was worth voting no over?

  • Mike

    13 of 19 is only marginally above the average for the entire house, so I don’t think that proves anything (also, I have to question why the number 19 was picked to make their point). Still, clearly some politicians are feeling the heat from their constituents to vote against the bill. But isn’t that how the government is supposed to work? So what?

    I support the bail-out, but I also sympathize with those that don’t. People say that they are irresponsible for not voting for it when something needs to be done. But if they really feel that this is the wrong thing to be done, then wouldn’t they be irresponsible to vote for it? I agree with you that I don’t fault those who oppose it if they really object to its content.

    Here are some exerts of Pelosi’s speech. I’m not sure what’s up with Gaucho’s link. In any case, it’s not entirely wrong to change a vote based on a speech. By saying those things right before a vote, voting yes would have been interpreted by some as an agreement to the things Pelosi said. Therefore, Pelosi could have used the passed bill as a mandate to implement policies in line with the views she described in that speech. With that in mind, I’m sympathetic to voting no based partly on the speech if they thought voting yes would send a message that would be destructive.

    Pelosi wanted Republicans to vote yes for political cover for her own party. Republicans seemed like they might be willing to provide the cover, but then Pelosi pushed her luck by not only wanting political cover for the bill itself, but tried to take advantage of the situation by trying to make a yes vote look like an admission of free-market failure by the republicans. There’s plenty of blame to go around, but clearly some belongs to Pelosi.