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Congressman Watt Responds to Yesterday's House Vote on the Economic Rescue Package

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Location: Washington, DC


EMERGENCY ECONOMIC STABILIZATION ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - September 29, 2008)

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Mr. WATT. I thank the gentleman for yielding time.

There is probably no worse instance to be doing legislation than having to do it in response to a crisis. Legislating to clean up a mess is just not as fun as it is if you do something thoughtfully looking forward to try to prevent a mess from occurring.

And we've been, for the last several years, trying to legislate. We had predatory lending legislation. We've been on the forefront of that. But we've been having difficulty getting people to recognize that a crisis was coming if we didn't respond to cut back on irresponsibility in the market.

There are two problems here. The first is, is there a real crisis that needs to be responded to? And that is really the question that I have gotten a lot more calls from my constituents about. The second issue of course is what do you do about it if there is a crisis? So let me talk about the first of those first. Is there a crisis? And that question I really don't have an answer for other than the answer that we were given by the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve 1 week ago Thursday which was that we are in a real crisis situation that could mushroom into something worse than the Great Depression.

It's not my responsibility as an individual Member of Congress to go and prove that. But when the Secretary of the Treasury and the Chairman of the Federal Reserve tell me that there is a real problem, the stakes become too high for me not to take it seriously. It's not my responsibility to go and convince the American people, and I wish we had a President that had enough communication skills and enough credibility with the American people to convince them that there is a real problem. Unfortunately, that burden hadn't been carried sufficiently by the administration.

But I am convinced that the odds are bad enough that if we don't do something today, we will regret it for a long, long time to come. Having jumped across that threshold, we have shaped this package as responsibly as we can shape it, and I encourage my colleagues to support the bill.

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