Congressman Peter Welch was one of several dozen members of the House who changed his vote on the bailout.
VPR’s Ross Sneyd explains Welch’s change of heart.
(Sneyd) Congressman Welch says he’s had little doubt about the need for a bailout.
(Welch) “I believed that there was a crisis in our credit markets that threatened to engulf innocent businesses and innocent Vermonters. The United States economy is a $13 trillion engine. But it needs credit, just as a regular engine needs oil.”
(Sneyd) In a conference call with reporters just an hour before casting his vote, Welch explained why he thought the engine needed to go back for an overhaul earlier this week.
Federal deposit insurance needed to more than double, he says. Friday’s revised bill included that provision.
Welch wanted more oversight over the bailout. He says he got some of that.
He wanted accounting changes by the Securities and Exchange Commission to protect taxpayers. The SEC went along after Welch and other congressmen petitioned for the change.
The congressman also was searching for reassurance that, if a profit was to be made from cleaning up bad loans, taxpayers would benefit.
Senator Barack Obama called on Tuesday and gave Welch what he was looking for.
(Welch) “Senator Obama gave me his personal assurance – and let me make clear, I trust Senator Obama, I trust his commitment on this – he gave me his personal assurance that as the next president of the United States he would fight for a recoupment fund – the term he uses – to make certain that the cost of this program would be borne by the financial services community, largely the folks who caused the problem, and not the taxpayer.”
(Sneyd) Welch still was uneasy as he headed for the House floor to help push the bailout through Congress.
But he says there was no choice.
(Welch) “President Kennedy once said, `To govern is to choose.’ We’re at that point where we have to choose. It’s this bill or no bill. And I strongly believe that no bill is an absolute catastrophe for innocent Vermonters, innocent businesses, people who had nothing to do with causing this credit crisis.”
(Sneyd) It was a tough choice, Welch says, but the only one he had.
For VPR News, I’m Ross Sneyd.