Bachmann: Oil drilling should pay for bailoutby Tim Pugmire, Minnesota Public Radio
The Bush administration's $700 billion plan to bail out the financial industry has become a key campaign issue in Minnesota's 6th Congressional District. First-term incumbent Republican Michele Bachmann is getting lots of national attention for her opposition to the plan. Her Democratic challenger has concerns too, but he says Bachmann's hands-off approach is irresponsible.
St. Paul, Minn. — Rep. Michele Bachmann has been showing up frequently on national TV to criticize the $700 billion proposal to address the nation's financial crisis. She's appeared on Bloomberg, CNBC, CNN and Fox News.
Bachmann's criticism, which she shares with many conservative Republicans, runs counter to the Bush administration. Bachmann says she's still trying to get information about the proposed bailout, but at this point she's not on board.
"We're looking at the American public, the American taxpayer, bailing out private businesses. That is not the way we do business in the United States of America." said Bachmann. "We need to engage the free market and capitalism. This financial failure was not the fault of free markets or of capitalism. Rather, it was the fault of too much government intervention."
Bachmann wants to see other changes that she says would help stabilize the sputtering ecomony. Her list includes cutting the corporate tax rate and suspending the capital gains tax.
Bachmann is also now trying to link the bailout with her other high-profile policy push for expanded oil drilling.
Bachmann and other Republicans are urging President Bush to allow oil companies to drill in currently closed areas of Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico, which she says would help offset the financial impact of the bailout.
"If we open it up, we will not only bring down the price of gas at the pump, but we'll create literally hundreds of thousands, in fact it will be millions of jobs, high-paying jobs in the energy sector," said Bachmann.
Bachmann's Democratic challenger in the 6th District, Elwyn Tinklenberg, says her attempt to tie oil exploration to the financial stabilization plan is an incredible distraction and a disservice to those who are seeking real solutions.
Tinklenberg say he, too, has concerns about the Treasury Department's proposal, but he says something needs to be done soon to prevent further erosion in the financial markets.
"We're stabilizing, hopefully, the investments of a large number of people, many of whom are seniors and are relying on this system to provide for their security and their retirement," said Tinklenberg. "It's unfortunate that we've gotten to this position, but it's where we are, and it would be irresponsible not to do something."
Tinklenberg criticized Bachmann for not seeing early signs of the financial crisis from her position on the House Financial Services committee, which oversees the nation's housing and financial services sectors. The committee roster also includes Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, a DFLer who represents the 5th District.
A third candidate in the 6th Congressional District race is also urging caution with the bailout plan. Bob Anderson, who's running as an Independence Party candidate, says he wants Congress to make sure the leaders of failed financial companies don't benefit.
"If there's going to be any bailout, there should be some accountability on the firms, the banks, the investors that have got us into this mess," said Anderson. "I think there should be some consequences for their actions. I don't think the American taxpayer should burden all the responsibility for bailing out when this mess was created."
Anderson and Tinklenberg both say they are eagerly waiting for a chance to detail their views on the economy along side Bachmann in a public forum.
With six weeks left before Election Day, there have yet to be any debates in the 6th district with all three candidates.
- All Things Considered, 09/23/2008, 5:50 p.m.