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Columbia Missourian

Ninth District candidates sound off on bailout

By BRIAN EASON
September 25, 2008 | 9:32 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Candidates for Missouri's Ninth District sounded off Thursday on Congress' proposed $700 billion financial bailout plan, with both major party candidates stressing that any bill needed to work for the American people rather than financial bigwigs.

Judy Baker, the Democratic candidate, expressed support for the bill in principle, given that certain stipulations were included — measures that the Democratic Congressional leadership, and presidential candidates Sens. John McCain and Barack Obama, have all said must be in the bill.

"Action must include oversight so this crisis never happens again," said Baker in a statement released by her campaign. "I would not support any bill that includes severance pay for corporate executives that are responsible for this meltdown. Under my watch, there will be no blank check signed by the American people."

The campaign of Republican candidate Blaine Luetkemeyer, a former state bank examiner, said that while something needs to be done, he wouldn't comment on the proposed bill until more specific details emerged.

"Many of the details of the government's plan are still sketchy and Blaine believes Congress should proceed cautiously and thoughtfully to safeguard against any unintended consequences that any action or lack of action may cause taxpayers," campaign spokesman Paul Sloca said in a prepared statement.

"Blaine believes the concerns of Main Street should come before Wall Street. He is extremely concerned about the turmoil in the financial markets because real people who put their faith in our financial system are getting hurt and are losing their homes and their investments."

On the heels of the news out of Wall Street, the Baker campaign sent out a press release criticizing Luetkemeyer on the issue of bank deregulation, which Baker spokesman Paul Tencher blamed for the financial trouble. The proposed bailout plan and actions by the Federal Reserve last week represent a shift in federal financial policy that has tended toward less market interference in recent decades.

The Baker news release said a 2003 bill sponsored by Luetkemeyer hampered Division of Finance oversight of bank activities and repealed several laws that set restrictions on sub-prime loans.

Sloca in a prepared statement on Friday backed Luetkemeyer's support of that bill.

"As a former state bank regulator, Blaine supported these legislative changes because state bank regulators and the banking industry were committed to working together to protect the assets of hard-working Missourians, improve the efficiency of the state banking system and ensure the state was complying with federal law," Sloca said. "That was the impetus behind this legislation."

Sloca called it "mind-boggling" that Baker would try to link Luetkemeyer's stance on that bill to "the financial mess at the federal level."

Of Luetkemeyer's stance on federal deregulation, Sloca said, "I know for a fact that he opposed the deregulation of the banking industry by Bill Clinton back in the 1990s, so that should tell you all you need to know."

Both candidates said the federal debt, which would be pushed to a record $11.3 trillion under the proposed bill, is a serious concern.

Libertarian Party candidate Tamara Millay could not be reached for comment.