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Finance Industry Bailout Passes, But With Mixed Feelings

The politicking is far from over regarding the $700 billion financial-industry bailout passed by Congress last week, formally known as the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

Opinion was divided among Michigan legislators, for instance, even though on the face of it, "Economic Stabilization" is something the auto industry desperately needs, to free up credit for consumers and for the Detroit 3 automakers themselves.

Veteran auto industry allies Rep. John Dingell and Sen. Carl Levin both voted for the bailout, but with visible reluctance. Sen. Debbie Stabenow voted against it, and for her part, she expressed reluctance to oppose the measure. All three are Democrats, and all three supported a recent measure to provide the Detroit 3 with low-interest loans, to help pay for developing more fuel-efficient vehicles.

The financial-industry bailout was a much less clear-cut case. Dingell and Levin both said that under the circumstances, with consumers and businesses having a harder time getting loans, it was important to do something quickly, rather than nothing.

"It's clear to me that we cannot allow our nation's economy to fall off this cliff. We need to take action before it is too late. Doing nothing is not an option," Levin said in a written statement. Levin emphasized that changes to the bill adding provisions for greater oversight for how the money is spent made it acceptable to him.

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Dingell criticized the bill for not doing enough to address what he sees as a need for stricter regulation of the financial services industry, and he questioned whether it does enough for ordinary families.

"However, I know that the people of this country cannot afford to go another day without action," he said in a written statement. He noted that after Congress failed to pass an earlier version of the legislation last week, the New York Stock Exchange suffered a record one-day decline.

Stabenow said she voted against the bill because in her view it doesn't do enough for ordinary people.

All three Democrats used the occasion of the vote to take a few shots at Republicans and the Bush Administration for de-regulating financial services, which in the view of the Democrats helped bring about the present crisis.

"What I find deeply concerning is that we are not here by accident. We are in this credit crisis because of a failed philosophy and a failed set of priorities that have rewarded greed," Stabenow said in a written statement.

All this suggests, especially with a presidential campaign going on, that the financial-services rescue package does not have smooth sailing ahead of it, even though it passed.

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