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January 13, 2009

Tulsa World: Inhofe blasts Bush bid for rest of bailout

Tulsa World

Inhofe blasts Bush bid for rest of bailout

by: JIM MYERS World Washington Bureau

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

1/13/2009 3:12:32 AM

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Monday that President Bush has damaged his own legacy by agreeing to request the second half of the $700 billion financial rescue bailout.

"I was in shock,'' the Oklahoma Republican said.

"I didn't think there was any way he could further damage his legacy, but he sure did it this morning.''

Inhofe, who opposed the $700 billion bailout approved last year by Congress, said Bush's request on behalf of President-elect Barack Obama amounts to a "blank check'' to the new administration.

"This lets Obama off the hook,'' he said.

Inhofe said it was "bad enough'' when Bush had his own treasury secretary come in and ask for the bailout.

"But then when you are turning it over to someone whose philosophy is totally alien to what Bush has always said. I can't imagine what was going through his head when he did that,'' he said.

Inhofe accused the Bush administration of mismanaging the first $350 billion. He again predicted that in 20 to 30 years historians will say the $700 billion bailout was the "most outrageous vote in the history of the United States Congress.''

When asked for a response, the White House did not speak about Inhofe's comments but pointed to statements the president made at a press conference.

Bush recalled the concerns last year that the nation was headed toward another Great Depression, adding that he was pleased financial markets are beginning to thaw.

He also said Obama now will have to make his own case for the second $350 billion.

Inhofe has introduced a bill to change provisions of the bailout law, but top Democrats have their own plans.

"The American people have a right to be wary of this request,'' said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., who agreed that the program so far has not been managed as well as supporters had hoped.

Reid said he was encouraged that Obama recognizes the importance of transparency and accountability.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., cited a House bill designed to address the shortcomings in the way the Bush administration handled the first $350 billion, which she said was largely used to bolster the balance sheets of banks.

In addition to strengthened oversight, the House bill would provide foreclosure relief to families trying to stay in their homes, Pelosi said.

Obama's office also released a letter to legislative leaders stating that the president-elect shares Americans' frustrations over the "little effect'' received from the program.

"He believes the American people are right to be angry with the way this plan has been implemented,'' stated the letter from a top Obama adviser, Lawrence Summers, who also outlined specific changes Obama wants.

A vote on the House bill could come within days.

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