The House is voting on the bailout bill (HR 3997) from last weekend, and looks ready to vote it down. With all but one vote in, over a third of Democrats and two-thirds of Republicans are voting “nay,” for a final tally of 207 in favor, 226 against (and 1 Republican “not voting” yet…wonder who that is?). The Democrats are keeping the vote open, and there is some arm-twisting still going on (I’ve seen two votes switch back over into the “yea” column), but it’s taking a while and they may just decide they can’t overcome that gap.
Pundits are saying re-election fears may have put the bailout opponents over the top. Democrats had hoped for a threshhold of 100 Republicans voting in favor (and were reasonably sure they had it after the deal was struck), and they wound up with a measly 66. Now we know why Boehner, Blunt, and the rest of the House GOP negotiators were so wary of openly endorsing the final deal. They knew that their caucus (and likely a good number of Democrats as well) was getting a huge amount of negative mail and phone calls from constituents telling them they were toast if they voting for this monster, and added to the House GOP core that was dead-set against a “socialistic” bailout in principle from the beginning, that sounded the death-knell for the bill.
The Dow, as I write, is down by a margin pushing 600 points in heavy trading. The traders that kept their powder dry last Friday in the hopes that a bailout would be forthcoming this week are now scrambling to ditch their financial stocks. Captain Ed has more.
UPDATE: Cavuto on FNC is saying the defeat of the bailout may turn out to be a good thing. Painful, yes, but a net positive. A lot of dead weight so far has been shed by the banking industry and larger financial industry. It hurts to drop all that dead weight at the same time after years of mismanagement and shifty accounting keeping it on, but dropping it is not a bad thing in the end. Plus, word is a bunch of experts who “know the nature of these troubled assets better than all of us combined” believed the $700 billion in this bill wouldn’t have been nearly enough (possibly as much as twice that would have been needed to shore things up).
UPDATE II: Dow is back “up” to around 475 in the red. A couple of “yea” votes saw the writing on the wall and switched, so the voting has closed with the tally at 205 in favor, 228 against. (Wonder who the not-voting member was? Will post the roll call when it’s posted.)
UPDATE III: White House reps are coming to the podium to say they’re “very disappointed.” Bush’s legacy was fragile enough going in, but the general consensus up to now has been generally that history would be kinder than the news. This could kill that consensus dead. Over on the Hill, Adam Putnam, House GOP conference chair, Minority Leader John Boehner, and key negotiator Eric Cantor are blaming the Speaker for taking a nasty partisan tone on the House floor before the vote (Cantor has the text of her speech, here in my hand); Minority Whip Roy Blunt, the head vote-counter for the GOP, is saying that probably cost her about a dozen GOP votes in favor. All are stressing that 94 Democrats voted “nay.” Dow back down to 540 below.
UPDATE IV: Here’s the roll call. The holdout, who appears to have stayed a non-voter, is Rep. Jerry Weller (R-IL). Dunno what his problem was. Word is the Dems weren’t expecting more than 40 defections; getting more than twice that must have hurt. My rep voted “yea.” Still looking for the text of Pelosi’s speech.
UPDATE V: Still don’t have the text, but here’s the video:
OK, yeah, that would p*** me off too. Was she really trying to get this passed? She must have known that keeping House Republicans on board was key; did she think this would do that? And why’d she feel like she had to say, “Democrats believe in a free market,” as though that weren’t understood in a free-market economy? Memo to the Speaker: if you have to point out to us that you’re not a party of socialists, that’s not a good sign. (Incidentally, is it me, or doesn’t she sound like Dr. Evil whenever she says “seven… hundred… billion… dollars” like that?) Quite a few commentators are baffled as to why she called the vote in the first place when she must have known the votes weren’t there; it would have been smarter to keep twisting arms until she had, at the very least, more Democrats behind her.
UPDATE VI: The Democratic leadership has held their press conference, predictably blaming the other side. They’re mad at the GOP for not being able to scrape together another 12 votes (Rep. Barney Frank is pouring on the snark in that respect). I’m a little mystified that no reporter is asking how they themselves, the party that ostensibly didn’t have grave reservations about the bailout, managed to lose fully a third of their own. The Dow is down well over 700 points; NASDAQ is down about 180; S&P down about 100. Over 1.3 billion shares have been sold off so far on Wall Street; fewer than 17 million bought.
UPDATE VII: Dow closes on a 777-point loss on frantically heavy trading. While percentage-wise not even in the top ten biggest drops ever, it does take the number-one spot in terms of absolute one-day point drops in history.