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Bank Bailout Vote Comes Back to Haunt Lawmakers Up for Election

4 years ago
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While the $700 billion bailout of banks has been credited with containing the financial meltdown of 2008, many lawmakers who voted for it -- Republicans as well as Democrats -- have found it to be a political albatross in this year's elections, the New York Times reports.

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) was proposed by former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, with the backing of then President Bush and the Democratic congressional leadership. But in this election year with its strong anti-Washington overtones, members of Congress who voted for it are finding themselves under attack for promoting big government and fiscal irresponsibility, the Times says.

While Democrats have been coming under fire from Republican challengers for support of the bailout, one of the twists in the current midterm contests is that Republican incumbents who voted for the program are being pummeled by both Republican and Democratic candidates, as well as drawing the wrath of Tea Party activists.

Bob InglisAmong Republicans the Times listed as coming under attack for supporting TARP were six-term South Carolina Rep. Bob Inglis who lost to a challenger in a GOP primary by 40 points, longtime Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley who is being criticized for his vote by Democratic opponent Roxanne Conlin, and Arizona Sen. John McCain who is being opposed for re-nomination by former conservative talk show host J.D. Hayworth.

The Times noted that the issue was one of the factors that prompted Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter to leave the party rather than contend for the nomination against a conservative rival.

One of the most-publicized instances of Republicans turning out one of their incumbents was in Utah where three-term Sen. Robert Bennett, long considered a reliable conservative, didn't even get enough votes at a state GOP convention to make the primary ballot. Bennett had been jeered at the convention by people chanting, "TARP, TARP, TARP," The Times noted.
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