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Arena of Ideas interviews Congressman Blunt on HR 3997 and the challenges that follow

Congressman Blunt answers a few questions regarding free markets, compromise and the alternatives.

Congressman Roy Blunt heald a conference call this afteroon with local media and bloggers. In a follow up email I received the answers to several hard questions regarding the bill’s reach in government and why such a compromise bill is important to all – including us who try to live by limited government principles.

The answers, as always, were to the point and informative.

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Arena of Ideas: I was at a local eating establishment at lunch – all eyes were glued on a television showing the vote. A lot of the conversation huddled around three things – ACORN getting a twenty percent kick back, too much power in the hands of government, and no real solution to what caused the problem. How do you address these concerns?

Congressman Roy Blunt: In sitting at the negotiating table with Democrats, it was clear from the beginning they favored an “ornamental” approach to crafting this package – adding in provisions allowing judges to unilaterally toss out and amend the terms of individual mortgages, a partisan oversight board that was more about politics than accountability, and a dedicated stream of taxpayer resources straight into the bank accounts of left-wing advocacy organizations like ACORN. Every one of those provisions was stripped out in the end, and though no one would suggest the product produced was perfect, it’d be tough (and incorrect) to argue it’s a special interest give-away. Unless by “special interests” you mean individuals’ 401(k)s, Roth IRAs, pension plans, and money market accounts.

AoI: Larry Kudlow of CNBC/National Review mentioned today that Pelosi might try to get a far left version of the bill passed along a party line vote. How much of a reality is this?

RB: Too early to handicap what steps will be taken next. Everyone agrees our economy is facing serious economic challenges right now; not everyone agrees on the best means of confronting them. Over the next few days, the conversation over what to do next, and how to do it, will be a lively one. But ultimately, nothing short of a genuine bi-partisan plan will have a chance of becoming law.

AoI: What is the most difficult challenge in working in the current political environment?

RB: Time. Very little of it exists between now and the next election, but a lot more of it would’ve been helpful in going through the right sort of process to get this package in a place where it could pass. Unfortunately, the scope and reach of the crisis we face right now necessitated swift and serious action. And even though we didn’t get a bill passed today, I’m hopeful we can come together on another bi-partisan plan later this week.

AoI: What would you say to those who are adamantly opposed to the bill solely on the basis of free market principles?

RB: If this bill represented a genuine bail-out – with neither a chance nor an expectation that taxpayers would recoup a large share of the assets they’re investing in – I don’t know that a defense of that sort would exist. But that’s not this bill. What this bill did attempt to do, however, was give the market a little time to sort out the value of assets – assets that we know have value, have had value in the past, and will have it again in the future. And when they do, taxpayers will be the first in line to collect that value. Unfortunately, waiting for that valuation to occur on its own would limit the ability of everyday Americans to get a loan, everyday businesses to make payroll, and everyday banks to be put in a tough situation with cash on hand. That’s why we need to act.

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