Mary Jo Kilroy is out with her first ad of the campaign season.
Overall, it’s a smart, positive ad.
But there is one key line that inspired Factcheck to do a little digging.
At least five freshman Democratic House members are running ads claiming they voted against the bank “bailout,” when in fact none was in Congress when the bill setting up the Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, was enacted.
Mary Jo Kilroy says she “voted against the bank bailout.”
The final House vote on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 took place on Oct. 3, 2008. The bill passed, 263-171. None of the five lawmakers who are running these ads is listed in the roll call vote. That’s because none of them had taken office yet – in fact, none of them would even be elected for another month.
So what are they talking about?
It’s fairly simple, and fairly misleading as well. All five of the candidates are claiming opposition to the $700 billion “bailout” because of a vote that occurred months after Congress approved, and President Bush signed, the TARP law.
Here’s what happened: As the law was structured, the treasury secretary (then Henry Paulson) had access to only $350 billion, half of the total package, at first. The second half would be available only if the administration went to Congress and asked for it. Treasury would get the money unless Congress said no. The first $350 billion of the TARP money was quickly spent.
By the time the Bush administration, at the request of President-elect Barack Obama, filed a request with the Senate for the rest of the money on Jan. 12, 2009, there were widespread complaints that too much of the first tranche had been used to bail out large institutions and not enough to help homeowners. The new funds could have been blocked had both houses of Congress voted to do so, but on Jan. 15, 2009, the Senate defeated a disapproval resolution, 52-42, effectively voting to release the funds. Treasury almost immediately announced it would use some of the money to shore up a deeply crippled Bank of America.
Where was the House in all this? Pretty much irrelevant. Eventually there was a similar vote in that body. Kilroy, Dahlkemper, Kratovil, Nye and Titus all voted for the disapproval resolution, and it passed, 270-155. But the vote came on Jan. 22, a week after the Senate’s vote (and two days after Obama was sworn in). Treasury already had the money.
In other words, these five — and everyone else who cast a yea or nay on the resolution — knew the vote on the unpopular program was purely symbolic.
Of course, 3BP called Kilroy out for this pathetic twist of the truth back when she first made the statement back in June, but it’s nice to see a usually left-leaning factcheck organization call her out as well.
Unfortunately, the average voter doesn’t know the dirty details behind her vote and she’ll get away with twisting the truth. But that’s politics. That said, props must go out to the Columbus Dispatch for catching the same twist of the truth as Factcheck.
It’s up to people like you, the ones engaged enough to read political blogs like this one, to educate those around you. Be involved. Make phone calls. Get your neighbors talking.
That’s how we win.