I listened in to a telephone press conference this afternoon with Senator Saxby Chambliss. Here are some notes from the conference.
Gas situation in Georgia
– The waiver to stop requiring the special blend for parts of Georgia has not had an immediate impact.
– There was a fire at a plant in Pasadena Texas that has slowed supply.
– Gas is being diverted from other parts of the country to sell in Georgia.
– We probably won’t be back at full supply for another five days.
– Luquidity and confidence are crucial for any solution to work
– $700 billion plan from Paulson shocked a lot of Congressmen
– The sheer size of the proposed bailout gave most members of Congress pause
– We do have all parties at the table now.
– There was no deal yesterday in spite of what was announced yesterday morning. There will not be a deal until all parties have a say in the process.
– Chambliss is pleased that both McCain and Obama came back to DC. They should both be involved in the process.
– WH meetings like what took place yesterday are not uncommon. It’s also not uncommon for no agreement to be reached in such meetings and Senate and House leadership need input from their members.
– Oversight is necessary. Those implementing the bailout plan must be accountible. An oversight board should be put in place. “Brakes” must be put on executive compensation. Chambliss will not vote for any bill that allows for golden parachutes for executives of participating banks.
– Chambliss is opposed to simply bailing out Wall Street.
– Payments received by the government must be used to pay back the government’s outlay. The current proposal does not allow for that.
– There are four negotiators from both sides of the Capitol and the White House. It’s their goal that by midnight tonight a plan is hammered out.
– Chambliss’ phone has been ringing off the hook in opposition to the initial proposed $700 billion bailout.
– Chambliss has spoken with many bankers, business people, and economists from around Georgia
and the nation about this seeking input. Almost everyone agrees that something must be done, but there is no “perfect plan.”
– This a very complex problem that Congress doesn’t frequently deal with.
The Senator is now taking questions. I’ll update if anything interesting is said.
A reported from WDUN (I think): What happens if no deal is reached by the Congress?
Chambliss: Nobody knows for sure. Everyone is telling us that if credit sources dry up, the consequences will be very bad.
Question from Edwin Morris: Will there be a 9/11 Commission style report about what happened and how to prevent it from happening again?
Chambliss: Sub-prime mortgages are the root of the problem. Fannie Mae and other mortgage companies were encouraged to give the loans. Some steps have already been taken on the regulatory front. There are criminal investigations going on to see if some did anything criminal to help cause this crisis. We’ve not talked about a Commission, we’ve mostly been focused on what to do right now.
Question from Tom Crawford of Capitol Impact: Do you agree with government receiving equity in a company in exchange for the banks bad assets?
Chambliss: If you do that on a wholesale basis, then the federal government will own stock in a large number of companies all across America. That would not be a good thing. I don’t
Question from John Fredricks (sp?), Beacon Media: Can you give us any specific positive impact that McCain has had on this process?
Chambliss: Yes I can. He had an immediate impact. McCain announces he’s suspending his campaign and the next day the Democrat engaged Senate Republican for the first time ever and basically caving just so they could get a deal before McCain arrived later that afternoon. McCain has given a list to the negotiators and those items are being used by the negotiators.
Followup: There are reports of about $7 million in earmarks added in, including one by Joe Biden. What do you think about that?
Chambliss: I had no heard that but there is no place for pet projects in this process and I won’t support a bill that includes such things.
Question from Blake Aued, Athens Banner-Herald: Have you heard of any local banks in trouble?
Chambliss: I have not heard of banks in Georgia other than what has already been reported. I’ve seen no indication of anyone’s deposits being in trouble.
Followup: Is Paulson’s proposal “socialism?”
Chambliss: I don’t know if it’s socialism, but it’s a scary thought that the government might own a number of banks. It’s not nationalizing them, but as I said earlier, it’s not good for the government to own an equity stake in private corporations.
I need to sign off now – got some work to take care of.