Travis Childers

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 3, 2008


1st District congressman says ‘no’ to Wall Street bailout plan

By Billy Davis

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After turning down the first version of a controversial bailout plan, members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including 1st District Congressman Travis Childers, are expected to vote soon on the U.S. Senate version.

Childers, who is from Prentiss County, represents Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District, which includes Panola County.

In a late-night vote Wednesday, the Senate passed the newest version of a $700 billion bailout plan that had failed days earlier in the House.

Mississippi senators Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran voted against the measure, which passed 75-24.

Before the Senate???s vote, Wicker announced he would vote against the 451-page proposal. He called the legislation an “improvement from the initial Paulson plan,” referring to U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, but said also “this is still the same plan that calls on taxpayers to go $700 billion further into debt in an attempt to fix this problem, while doing absolutely nothing to prevent it from happening again.”

Wicker is locked in a tight Senate race with former Mississippi governor Ronnie Musgrove, a native of Batesville. That race will be decided on November 4.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the Senate bill was “sweetened” with a variety of tax breaks, handouts and pet projects intended to garner more support for the controversial bailout. In Washington, the practice is known as a “Christmas tree.”

Those added “Christmas tree” incentives ranged from tax credits for employees commuting by bicycle to a tax credit for employees who hired workers from an Indian reservation. Closer to home, the bill also included a tax credit for employees in Hurricane Katrina’s disaster area.

The more well-publicized additions to the bill are the elimination of a 39-cent excise tax on children’s toy bow-and-arrow sets and tax breaks for stockcar racetrack operators.

In a pivotal vote last week, Childers was among 95 House Democrats whose votes defeated the controversial plan. One hundred thirty-three House Republicans also voted against the measure, and it was defeated on a 228-205 vote.

Childers, after winning the open House seat in a May special election, is fending off a second challenge from Republican Greg Davis, mayor of Southaven, on November 4.

Davis told The Commercial Appeal this week that he, too, would have voted against the bailout plan.

In Mississippi, House Democrats Bennie Thompson, Gene Taylor and Childers voted against the bill despite pressure from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a Democrat.

House Republican Chip Pickering, who is not seeking re-election, voted for the plan.

In a statement released after the House vote, Childers said he refused to vote for legislation that required American families to “dig deeper into their pockets to rescue Wall Street from its own recklessness.”

Childers could not be reached by The Panolian for comment Wednesday and Thursday.  

Childers sits on the House Financial Services Committee, the House version of the Senate Banking Committee.