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Public Statements

Economic Bailout

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

ECONOMIC BAILOUT -- (Senate - September 29, 2008)

Mr. DOMENICI. Let me thank the distinguished Senator from Tennessee, Lamar Alexander, for his eloquent remarks here this morning. I would say to anyone who wants to try to understand the situation we are in, in terms that everybody can see and feel, they ought to read his speech.

I also thank him because he used a metaphor I developed with some of my staff to try to explain this, and he has added to it and amplified it. He has taken the idea that we came up with in my office--I asked my staff to sit down with me and talk, and the only thing we could think of about the clogging of this passageway was a word that didn't sound as though it was a very good word to use, which was ``constipation.'' I said: Could we not think of some metaphor that is better than that?

After 20 minutes or so, the idea came forth of a superhighway, with four or six lanes loaded with cars traveling at full speed, 65, 70 miles an hour, and then there was a crash that took all lanes and stopped all of them and the cars piled up for miles back.

As the good Senator from Tennessee, a wonderful friend of mine, has gone on from that simple beginning I just described to analogize the entire problem we have, that accident where--these cars that are all cracked up are the toxic assets we are buying. They are toxic because they are all broken down, they are not worth anything anymore, and we are going to buy them. That is why we are setting up this rescue fund. When we buy them, eventually get them, all of the cars will be loosened from that long 20, 30 miles that they are blocked by this accident, which is the toxic assets, but it is really the cars stopping movement. And then he went on to explain what all those cars were, because so many people think this is Wall Street. This rescue plan is not Wall Street. Some of the large institutions that hold this paper that is clogging the highway, some of them are in New York, but we read today that some of them are in Europe. So we should understand that it is where the money moves, where the money comes from, and as it moves out into our country, to the hinterland, that is where the problem is because these assets, these cars that end up in a wreck, these toxic assets, were purchased by banks and institutions all over the country and all over the world, apparently. Some countries bought a lot of them, from what is coming out now, and their banks are having the same kinds of problems thousands of miles away from the United States.

So we are going to be called upon as Senators to decide whether we want to rescue this American financial system which was the greatest delivery system for money that the world has ever seen. The reason we live in such high prosperity with so many material things of wealth, so much wealth that is material, from the number of houses--you might own two of them--from cars to appliances to everything that is there, it is financing; it is the financial system that is so magnificent in America that permits all of that to happen. And it is breaking down. We better rescue it if we can or look what we will be saying to our people: We are unable, in the worst kind of crisis as it pertains to the material wealth of our country, with that breaking down in front of our eyes, so that as my friend the Senator from Tennessee said, the things we want to have--will not be available. In essence, we will be a country that is bankrupt. You do not know where the money will be, you do not know what notes and instruments will be valid, you do not know who will deliver money to whom, and you will have a literal fiscal mess, a literal financial money mess.

Fix it or be charged with letting it break down. Vote for this and fix it. Do the rescue plan or walk out of here as a Senator who can claim no victory, can claim they didn't see fit----

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. The Senator's 5 minutes has expired.

Mr. DOMENICI. I ask unanimous consent for 1 additional minute

The ACTING PRESIDENT pro tempore. Without objection, it is so ordered.

Mr. DOMENICI. That they didn't see fit to lend their vote to a rescue plan of this type. And I believe, no matter how much guff you are getting from your constituents, no matter how much they are talking to you on the phone and in letters and other ways, you have to explain it to them right and then you have to vote what is right for the United States. That is why we are here.

Now, some will say: It is easy for you, Domenici; you are leaving the Senate after 36 years. But I hope that I could tell you that in my mind, I can carry back and say: I have only been here 12 years and I am still going to stay here, and I would vote this way if I were a Senator who had to go back and try to run again. It is unequivocal that my responsibility is to produce a rescue plan, and I hope the House passes it soon, and I hope our majority leader sees fit to call it up soon--sooner rather than later. With each day, more damage is being done here and around the world.

I think we are lucky to have two good people managing the affairs of the United States, and I want to close on that note. We could certainly have had leaders in the Treasury and in the Federal Reserve who were not as good as ours on this subject, and that is helpful because most of us who are studying this can go back to our offices and then talk to our families and our constituents and say: We are understanding it, and we think we are being dealt the right information and a good plan.

With that, I once again thank Senator Lamar Alexander, my good friend, for his excellent speech this morning. I say to anybody who wants to understand it, read it--to understand our problem, read it. I thank him for using a little bit of my thinking in his speech. Once again, thank you.

I yield the floor.

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