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Tom Allen on Budget & Economy

2008 Senate challenger; Democratic Representative (ME-1)


Bush administration’s debt has failed middle-class America

Allen took aim at the Bush administration by saying it has failed middle-class Americans and put the nation deep into debt. Allen said he supports government efforts to stem the financial crisis, such as the takeover of mortgage giants Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae earlier this month. But he blamed the Bush administration’s economic philosophy for causing the crisis. “This is not about Wall Street but Main Street,” he said.
Source: 2008 Maine Senate debate reported in Kennebec Journal Sep 21, 2008

Driving up debt & unbridled free market caused bank crisis

Collins said during a debate on WGAN-AM that both the Clinton and Bush administrations warned of looming troubles with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which guarantee or own nearly half the nation’s mortgages.

But she said a 2005 House bill to tighten regulations was too weak, and that Allen voted against two amendments that would’ve strengthened it. That version died in the Senate. But a different bill, with the amendments, eventually became law last July.

Allen said the bigger problem is the economic policies of President Bush. He said they drove up the national debt. At the same time, there was a lack of oversight of Wall Street practices, Allen said. “The belief in letting the markets run their course has never been stronger than in this administration,” he said.

Both Collins and Allen agreed that the revised version of the bailout vote was better than the first because it had added oversight and more safeguards for taxpayers.

Source: 2008 Maine Senate Debate in Bangor Daily News Aug 30, 2008

Voted YES on $15B bailout for GM and Chrysler.

Congressional Summary:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. BARNEY FRANK (D, MA-4): This economy is in the worst shape that it has been in since the Great Depression. This Congress voted 2 months ago to advance $25 billion to the auto industry to promote innovation. This $15 billion is an additional "bridge loan."

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. SPENCER BACHUS (R, AL-6): We all understand that the bankruptcy of either GM or Chrysler would have a cascading effect on other manufacturers. But I cannot support this plan because it spends taxpayer money without any real promise to return the industry to profitability. I see several glaring flaws. We are creating a new car czar to manage these companies from Washington; not a CEO, but a car czar. Second, this legislation actually imposes new and expensive mandates on our automobile companies. Third, this legislation imposes Federal Government management on the Big Three, the wisdom of Washington. It is clear that the management of these companies have made mistakes, many mistakes, but to set up a command and control Federal bureaucrat is exactly the wrong solution.

Rep. RON PAUL (R, TX-14): The problems that we are facing today date back to 1971. But we don't seem to want to go back and find out how financial bubbles form and why they burst. Instead, we just carry on doing the same old thing and never look back. We spend more money, we run up more debt, we print more money, and we think that is going to solve the problem that was created by spending too much money, running up debt, printing too much money. Today, we are talking about tinkering on the edges without dealing with the big problem.

Reference: Auto Industry Financing and Restructuring Act; Bill HR.7321 ; vote number 2008-H690 on Dec 10, 2008

Voted YES on $60B stimulus package for jobs, infrastructure, & energy.

Congressional Summary:
    Supplemental appropriations for:
  1. Infrastructure Investments: Transportation: DOT, FAA, AMTRAK, and FTA
  2. Clean Water (EPA)
  3. Flood Control and Water Resources (ACE)
  4. 21st Century Green High-Performing Public School Facilities (ED)
  5. Energy Development (DOE)
  6. Extension of Unemployment Compensation and Job Training
  7. Temporary Increase in Medicaid Matching Rate
  8. Temporary Increase in Food Assistance

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. DAVID OBEY (D, WI-7): Congress has tried to do a number of things that would alleviate the squeeze on the middle class. Meanwhile, this economy is sagging. Jobs, income, sales, and industrial production have all gone down. We have lost 600,000 jobs. We are trying to provide a major increase in investments to modernize our infrastructure and to provide well-paying construction jobs at the same time.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. JERRY LEWIS (R, CA-41): Just 2 days ago we were debating an $800 billion continuing resolution. Now in addition to being asked to pay for a bailout for Wall Street, taxpayers are being asked to swallow an additional $60 billion on a laundry list of items I saw for the first time just a few hours ago. The Democratic majority is describing this legislation as a "stimulus package" to help our national economy. But let's not fool ourselves. This is a political document pure and simple. If these priorities are so important, why hasn't this bill gone through the normal legislative process? We should have debated each of the items included in this package.

It doesn't take an economist to tell you that the economy needs our help. But what does this Congress do? It proposes to spend billions more without any offsets in spending. The failure to adhere to PAYGO means that this new spending will be financed through additional borrowing, which will prove a further drag on our struggling economy.

Reference: Job Creation and Unemployment Relief Act; Bill S.3604&HR7110 ; vote number 2008-H660 on Sep 26, 2008

Voted YES on defining "energy emergency" on federal gas prices.

Congressional Summary:

SUPPORTER'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING YES:Rep. WATERS: This bill preserves public housing. The administration eliminated the one-for-one replacement requirement in 1996, effectively triggering a national sloughing off of our Nation's public housing inventory. Housing authorities have consistently built back fewer units than they have torn down and, as a result, over 30,000 units have been lost. I urge you to support our Nation's low-income families and to preserve our housing stock.

OPPONENT'S ARGUMENT FOR VOTING NO:Rep. HENSARLING: President Reagan once said that the nearest thing to eternal life on Earth is a Federal program, and I don't think there is any better case study than perhaps the HOPE VI program. If there was ever a program that cried out for termination, it's this one.

This program began in 1992 with a very noble purpose of taking 86,000 units of severely distressed public housing and replacing them, demolishing them. Well, it achieved its mission. But somewhere along the line we had this thing in Washington known as mission creep.

We already have 80-plus Federal housing programs, and the budget for Federal housing programs has almost doubled in the last 10 years, from $15.4 billion to more than $30 billion now. So it's very hard to argue that somehow Federal housing programs have been shortchanged.

LEGISLATIVE OUTCOME:Bill passed House, 271-130

Reference: HOPE VI Improvement and Reauthorization Act; Bill H.R.3524 ; vote number 08-HR3524 on Jan 17, 2008

Voted YES on regulating the subprime mortgage industry.

H.R.3915: To reform consumer mortgage practices and provide accountability for such practices, to establish licensing and registration requirements for residential mortgage originators. Prohibits certain creditor practices with respect to high-cost mortgages, including:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Rep. FRANK: This legislation seeks to prevent a repetition of events that caused one of the most serious financial crises in recent times. We have a worldwide problem economically, with a terrible shortage of credit. Innovations in the mortgage industry, in themselves good and useful, but conducted in such a completely unregulated manner as to have led to this crisis. The fundamental principle of the bill is not to put remedies into place, but to stop future problems from occurring in the first place. We have had two groups of mortgage originators: banks subject to the regulation of the bank regulators; and then mortgage loans made by brokers who were subject to no regulation. The secondary market has been on the whole useful but, having been unregulated, has caused some problems.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Rep. HENSARLING: This is a bad bill for homeowners in America. There is no doubt that this Nation faces a great challenge in the subprime market, but this piece of legislation is going to make the situation worse. Clearly, there has to be enforcement against fraud in the subprime market. But what Congress should not do is essentially outlaw the American Dream for many struggling families who may be of low income, who may have checkered credit pasts, for whom a subprime mortgage is the only means to purchase a home.

Reference: Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act; Bill HR3915 ; vote number 2007-1118 on Nov 15, 2007

Voted NO on restricting bankruptcy rules.

Vote to pass the bill that would require debtors who are able to pay back $10,000 or 25 percent of their debts over five years to file under Chapter 13, rather then seeking to discharge their debts under Chapter 7. Chapter 13, calls for a reorganization of debts under a repayment plan. A Debtor would be restricted, in this bill, to a total exemption of $125,000 in home equity for residences bought within 40 months of a bankruptcy filing. The bill also would establish permanent and retroactive Chapter 12 bankruptcy relief for farmers.
Reference: Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act; Bill S 1920 ; vote number 2004-10 on Jan 28, 2004

Other candidates on Budget & Economy: Tom Allen on other issues:
ME Gubernatorial:
John Baldacci
ME Senatorial:
Olympia Snowe
Susan Collins

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AK:Begich (D)
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Page last updated: Nov 23, 2009