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Old 09-18-2008, 06:01 PM   #1
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Default Democratic Congress May Adjourn, Leave Crisis to Fed, Treasury


Democratic Congress May Adjourn, Leave Crisis to Fed, Treasury

By Kristin Jensen

Sept. 18 (Bloomberg) -- The Democratic-controlled Congress, acknowledging that it isn't equipped to lead the way to a solution for the financial crisis and can't agree on a path to follow, is likely to just get out of the way.

Lawmakers say they are unlikely to take action before, or to delay, their planned adjournments -- Sept. 26 for the House of Representatives, a week later for the Senate. While they haven't ruled out returning after the Nov. 4 elections, they would rather wait until next year unless Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke, who are leading efforts to contain the crisis, call for help.

One reason, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said yesterday, is that ``no one knows what to do'' at the moment.

``When you rush to judgment, you usually make mistakes,'' said Sherwood Boehlert, a former Republican congressman from New York. ``This is something you can't go on forever without addressing, but Congress in a short span of time is best served by going home.''

In 2002, after accounting scandals forced Enron Corp. and WorldCom Inc. into bankruptcy, Congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley law, setting new corporate-governance rules. While the measure passed unanimously in the Senate and overwhelmingly in the House, it has since become a target of criticism from some Republicans, including presidential candidate John McCain, and from many in the business and financial worlds.

``There's a huge danger that needs to be guarded against -- that we'll have a tremendous overreaction in regulations,'' former Treasury Secretary John Snow said in an interview.

Reid's `Despair'

Still, the Democrats opened themselves up for attack with Reid's comments. The Republican National Committee pounced on the Nevada lawmaker for his ``despair,'' and Senator Mel Martinez, a Florida Republican, said his remarks are ``not a way to inspire confidence or begin to turn the tide.''

And there were some calls for at least a bipartisan show of leadership during the crisis, which has resulted in the collapse of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, investment banks Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos., and insurer American International Group Inc., among other companies.

Unless party leaders on both sides of the aisle join with President George W. Bush to endorse a solution, there's little Congress and the president can do in the near term to restore market confidence, said Chuck Gabriel, managing director of Capital Alpha Partners LLC, which advises investors on politics and Washington.

White House Lawn

Wall Street would respond positively ``if the president and Treasury Secretary Paulson and a couple of Cabinet members and the Republican and Democratic leadership all went on the White House lawn and said that we are resolved to taking additional measures in the coming weeks despite the elections to ensure that confidence is restored,'' Gabriel said.

``But the odds of that seem very, very low.''

Some committee chairmen have scheduled hearings and promised better oversight.

Representative Henry Waxman, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will hold two days of hearings on Oct. 6 and 7 ``to examine what went wrong and who should be held to account'' at AIG and Lehman Brothers, which filed for bankruptcy on Sept. 15.

Waxman's committee summoned Lehman Chief Executive Officer Richard Fuld, AIG CEO Robert Willumstad and former AIG chiefs Maurice ``Hank'' Greenberg and Martin Sullivan to speak.

`Work Will Continue'

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi defended the decision of Congress to adjourn. Lawmakers can always be recalled to Washington ``if there is a need to do so,'' she told reporters yesterday. In the meantime, House and Senate committees will hold hearings and the financial crisis will be studied by Congress, she said. ``Our work will continue even if we are not still on the floor,'' she said.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank said Congress could give the Federal Reserve authority to pay interest on bank reserves sooner than originally scheduled.

``They already have the authority; it's just a question of moving it up a couple of years,'' Frank, of Massachusetts, told reporters yesterday. ``We're trying to work that out.''

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said the Fed also has the power to buy and dispose of bad debt stemming from the subprime-mortgage crisis.

``The Fed has the authority to move in this area,'' Dodd told reporters in Washington.

No `Quick Fixes'

Creating a separate agency to take on bad debt, akin to the Resolution Trust Corp. set up in 1989 to absorb losses from savings-and-loan associations, would take about a year, he said. Instead, the Fed should use its own authority to act.

Senator Johnny Isakson, a Georgia Republican active on housing issues, scoffed at suggestions that lawmakers postpone adjournment to rewrite laws governing the financial markets.

``The last thing you need,'' he said, ``are 535 people, not many of whom are that well-versed in financial markets, trying to do quick fixes to a market correction that's one of the more significant that we've ever seen.''
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Old 09-19-2008, 12:05 AM   #2
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Default Re: Democratic Congress May Adjourn, Leave Crisis to Fed, Treasury

They just want to be sure they're safely in their bunkers for the US fiscal year end (September 30), I guess.

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Old 09-19-2008, 12:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Democratic Congress May Adjourn, Leave Crisis to Fed, Treasury

Originally Posted by SkweekDevil View Post
They just want to be sure they're safely in their bunkers for the US fiscal year end (September 30), I guess.

he he, well said
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