The proposed bailout plan has failed in the House of Representatives.
The vote against the measure was 228 to 205, with 133 Republicans joining 95 Democrats in opposition. The bill was backed by 140 Democrats and 65 Republicans.
HOORAY! As a result, the plan is stalled, at least for the moment:
Supporters vowed to try to bring the rescue package up for consideration again as soon as possible, perhaps late Wednesday or Thursday, but there were no definite plans to do so.
That’s great news. But I’m not terribly surprised, I must say. (I can’t claim credit for the following insight, however. A friend suggested it to me last night.) Why not?
People are inundating their representatives with strong opposition to the bailout. Mark Udall, a representative from Colorado running for Senate reported: “People are mad. My calls are mixed, between people who say ‘No’ and people who say ‘Hell no.’”
Members of the House of Representatives are vulnerable to political discontent. Unlike in the Senate, the whole bunch (except those retiring) is up for re-election in just over a month. So as this vote indicates, many do not wish to risk their seat by voting in favor of wildly unpopular legislation — despite all the pressure from party leadership.
So what does that mean for us? It means: keep up the pressure. If you representative voted “no,” call or e-mail him to give your moral support. If he voted “yes” (as mine did; he’s retiring), then call or e-mail to tell him that you’re upset with him. You can find out how your representative voted here.
Update: Reading that NY Times article in full, I’m impressed by the seemingly principled opposition to the bailout. See these descriptions and quotes:
Jeb Hensarling, Republican of Texas, said he intended to vote against the package, which he said would put the nation on “the slippery slope to socialism.” He said that he was afraid that it ultimately would not work, leaving the taxpayers responsible for “the mother of all debt.”
Another Texas Republican, John Culberson, spoke scathingly about the unbridled power he said the bill would hand over to the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., whom he called “King Henry.”
A third Texan, Lloyd Doggett, a Democrat, said the negotiators had “never seriously considered any alternative” to the administration’s plan, and had only barely modified what they were given. He criticized the plan for handing over sweeping new powers to an administration that he said was to blame for allowing the crisis to develop in the first place.
In contrast, consider what the supporters of the bailout are saying:
When it comes to America’s economy, [Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Democratic Majority Leader] said, “none of us is an island.”
Representative Maxine Waters, a Democrat, said the measure was vital to help financial institutions survive and keep people in their homes. “There’s plenty of blame to go around,” she said, and attaching blame should come later.