Local News

October 31, 2008

Congressional challenger Oot differs on bailout approach

Challenger Oot criticizes McHugh on response to crisis

PLATTSBURGH -- While many issues are being debated in this year's congressional races, the recent bailout of Wall Street is getting the most attention.

Michael Oot, the Democratic challenger in the 23rd District, says he would not have supported the version of the federal bailout that Congress passed earlier this month.

"They put $158 billion of pork in it," he said.

"While there may be a need to come to the rescue of Wall Street, we also need an economic-stimulus package that puts money in the wallets of middle Americans."

Critics of the bailout have voiced concern that too much of the $700 billion package is going toward bonuses for executives in the companies that have contributed to the financial meltdown of Wall Street.

Oot's opponent, incumbent Republican John McHugh, said that if Oot did not like the final version of the bill, he can blame Democratic House leaders for what it included.

"I agree that this bill was not the place to carry these provisions. They should have been separated, and they probably would have passed on their own, but the Democratic leadership precluded us from taking them out," McHugh said, who voted to approve the bailout package.

"So if Mr. Oot has a problem with that, then he should really talk to the Democratic leadership because they made the call."

Oot said corporations simply do not have a conscience and that deregulation of financial markets in 1999 led to the financial crisis because corporations have little or no rules to hold them back from greed.

"They (corporations) have no moral guidance unless we give them a moral path they have to go down."

The bailout should include specific measures to ensure that corporations do not again fritter away public money, Oot said, adding that district residents are furious over the situation.

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