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News & Observer - Senate Rivals' Take on the Bailout

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News & Observer - Senate Rivals' Take on the Bailout

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole said Tuesday she is skeptical of the $700 billion bailout plan being pushed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

In her opening statement at a Senate banking committee hearing Tuesday, the Salisbury Republican blamed the nation's financial crisis on the lax oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two mortgage giants that have boosted the affordable housing market. The struggling agencies were taken over this summer by the federal government after threatening to crumble under the weight of subprime loans.

Dole has been one of several senators calling for more oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since 2003. "So much of what is happening ... can be linked to the mismanagement of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which was made possible by weak oversight and little accountability," Dole said.

She added later: "I am not at all convinced that this bailout plan -- which appears incredibly expensive and hastily concocted -- is the answer."

Dole's Democratic opponent, state Sen. Kay Hagan said in a statement Tuesday that Dole contributed to the financial mess by aligning herself with the Bush administration.

"It's outrageous that this administration -- in cooperation with senators like Elizabeth Dole -- allowed us to get to this place to begin with," Hagan said.

She said in her statement that any bailout package should include independent oversight, limits on payouts to chief executives and efforts to keep struggling homeowners in homes that are under threat of foreclosure.

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