Incumbents Expected to Pay Dearly for TARP Support

Thursday, 13 May 2010 05:24 PM

By Dan Weil

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Incumbent members of Congress, particularly Democrats, who supported the bank bailouts that began in 2008 may well suffer the consequences of voters’ wrath in November elections.

Voters are upset about the financial and economic crisis in general, and much of the anger is centered on the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), as the bank bailout is formally known.

Even Democrats acknowledge that Washington’s spending and the bailouts are key issues for voters, Roll Call reports.

And given that Democrats control Congress, they are likely to suffer more than Republicans.

“Democrats are pretty vulnerable for basically unapologetically continuing the bailouts,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn of Texas told Roll Call.

TARP began during the Bush administration and has been extended under President Obama, which used it to cover bailouts of General Motors and Chrysler as well.

Republicans say this misuse of TARP money, heavy-handed government intervention in various industries such as healthcare, and the $787 billion stimulus package approved early in the Obama administration will do in Democrats.

To be sure, Republicans aren’t all off the hook themselves.

Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, who voted for TARP, didn’t even make the cut for the Republican primary ballot this year.

Other Republicans who supported the bailout are dealing with the issue cautiously.

Orrin Hatch, also of Utah, doesn’t renounce his vote, but says it was a difficult choice, and he can understand voters’ anger, Roll Call reports.

“People are mad,” Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., who didn’t vote for TARP and is retiring to run for governor, told Roll Call. “They are mad at Washington. They’re mad at big government.”

“I think it started probably with TARP, and then with Obama’s healthcare bill, it just went into flaming mad.”

The latest Fox News poll has some good news for Republicans.

If congressional elections took place today, 42 percent of voters would back the Republican candidate in their district, while 40 percent would support the Democrat, the poll reveals. And 37 percent of independent voters are somewhat more likely to vote for the Republican candidate, compared with 31 percent for the Democrat.

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