John McCain Doesn’t Take the Bait “The Democrats came into the meeting with a “game plan” aimed at forcing McCain to choose between the administration and House Republicans.”


big fish devour little fish

After the cameras left the Cabinet room, Bush thanked everybody for their spirit of cooperation and said he knew it was not an easy vote. He knew elements still needed to be worked out and said he wanted to go around the table to hear people’s views.

Pelosi said Obama would speak for the Democrats. Though later he would pepper Paulson with questions, according to a Republican in the room, his initial point was brief: “We’ve got to get something done.”

Bush turned to McCain, who joked, “The longer I am around here, the more I respect seniority.” McCain then turned to Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to speak first..

Boehner was blunt. The plan Paulson laid out would not win the support of the vast majority of House Republicans. It had been improved on the edges, with an oversight board and caps on the compensation of participating executives. But it had to be changed at the core. He did not mention the insurance alternative, but Democrats did. Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, pressed Boehner hard, asking him if he really intended to scrap the deal and start again.

No, Boehner replied, he just wanted his members to have a voice. Obama then jumped in to turn the question on his rival: “What do you think of the (insurance) plan, John?” he asked repeatedly. McCain did not answer.

One Republican in the room said it was clear that the Democrats came into the meeting with a “game plan” aimed at forcing McCain to choose between the administration and House Republicans. “They had taken McCain’s request for a meeting and trumped it,” said this source.

Congressional aides from both parties were standing in the lobby of the West Wing, unaware of the discord inside the Cabinet room, when McCain emerged alone, shook the hands of the Marines at the door and left. The aides were baffled. The plan had been for a bipartisan appearance before the news media, featuring McCain, Obama and at least a firm statement in favor of intervention. Now, one of the leading men was gone.

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When it was McCain’s turn to speak, he deferred instead to House Minority Leader Boehner who listed House GOP objections to the bill and later suggested alternatives such as federal insurance for mortgage securities instead of buying them outright.

At that point Obama chimed in again appealing to Treasury Secretary Paulson, a friend to Democrats, in an effort to undercut House GOP concerns.

McCain spoke again saying that House GOP concerns are: “legitimate concerns that need to be listened to.”

Shortly after that the fireworks began as Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) (who must have thought he pulled one over on his House GOP colleagues with the earlier drafting of the bill) began shouting and accused Republicans of sandbagging” him.

Last night, the House Republican leadership held a press conference to discuss the economic bailout package, which they now support. John Boehner, Eric Cantor, Roy Blunt, and Adam Putnam explain that the new package greatly reduces — but does not eliminate — taxpayer risk. It improves the original Paulson plan, and Boehner notes who is responsible for the House GOP even getting a seat at the table:

“But I think I’ve made clear to many of you that if it were not for John McCain supporting me at the White House when I said whoa, whoa, time-out, they would have run over me like a freight train.”

Before McCain arrived in Washington, the Senate and the House Democrats figured they could force the Paulson plan down the throats of House Republicans. Afterwards, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid had no choice but to deal with Boehner and the conservatives, and making changes to the package to get their support. Also, Boehner announced that McCain has begun making calls to get Republican votes for this bill, which shouldn’t surprise too many who had listened to McCain over the weekend.

Are House conservatives happy? Not really, but it looks like they have done the best they can do to keep the long-term costs to taxpayers as low as they can.


Heard on CNBC: “No chance of passing this bill.”

“House Votes Down Bill To Bail Out Financial Markets”

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