Constituent Services
Statement by Congressman Brian Higgins on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act
October 3, 2008

"I did not vote for this bill because I want to bail out the failing Wall Street firms.  I do not.  Their greed and mismanagement are appalling and if I could let them fail, I would, because frankly they deserve it. 

But as irresponsible as many of these institutions were, it would be just as irresponsible for Congress to allow their greed to drag America down with them.  Many businesses both large and small depend on the line of credit from their bank to make payroll.  If Congress did not act and the banks failed, then businesses would close, one after the other.  Also, with banks unable to lend it would be difficult for most middle class Americans to buy a house, buy a car, or send their kids to college.  Pension plans invested in a collapsing stock market would go bankrupt.  Spending by consumers would come to a standstill, and the economy would begin a devastating freefall.  Allowing that to happen is simply not an option.

This bill is not a good bill but a necessary one; and as frustrating as this has been to the American people, the last two weeks of legislative negotiations has produced some changes that make this bill better for taxpayers than the “blank-check” initially proposed.  We argued that if the government is going to spend billions to get us out of this mess, we ought to have an investor's chance of getting our money back when times improve.  We fought for and won the right to claim an equity stake in the institutions we help, so that when they recover we recoup our investment.  We also demanded limits on compensation for the executives of these institutions, and close oversight of the entire program.


Twenty-five million Americans, including over 285,000 New Yorkers, will benefit from Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) relief included in the bill we passed today.  Originally designed to ensure that the wealthy could not use tax loopholes to avoid paying taxes altogether, every year the AMT ensnares more middle class taxpayers because its thresholds are not indexed for inflation.  The legislation also provides property tax relief for up to 30 million homeowners by extending a new $1,000 property tax deduction for non-itemizing couples through 2009.


This crisis was brought about by eight years of deregulation and a total lack of enforcement or oversight by this Administration.  The Enron scandal of 2001 and the Wall Street collapse of 2008 serve as tragic bookends to a failed philosophy that less regulation, less government oversight, is always better.  I look forward to joining with a new president next year to institute tough new regulations and oversight to ensure that such greed and corruption are not able to so endanger our country again.


I understand that because of the anger at the banks’ greed, voting against this bill would be the easiest political choice -- but it would also be the most irresponsible toward the people I represent.” 

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