The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

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September 22, 2008

English, Dahlkemper spar over blame for bailout

MERCER COUNTY — With Wall Street in meltdown mode, U.S. Rep. Phil English has agreed that the $700 billion bailout package for major financial institutions buried under a mountain of bad mortgage debt is crucial.

“On the general bailout, I think it’s imperative that we pass a rescue bill now,” said English, Erie, R-3rd District.

His Democratic opponent, Kathy Dahlkemper, was singing a similar tune but also calling English and Washington Republicans responsible for the mortgage market problems at the root of the financial turmoil.

Mrs. Dahlkemper, also of Erie, accused English and Republicans of causing the crisis by deregulating the mortgage industry. English pinned its cause on poor performance by government oversight agencies and a bipartisan failure of Congress to boost the oversight of the mortgage businesss that went sour.

Mrs. Dahlkemper — a small business owner — called the bailout a necessary evil, and said she also supports a string of Democratic amendments offered so far that would bring some of the relief to Main Street.

English said he supports some of those amendments, which include a cap on payouts to the executives presiding over failing financial institutions and more government scrutiny of the bailout money to prevent abuses.

Democrats are also pushing for a change that would permit judges to adjust the mortgages of some homeowners in danger of losing their homes. Mrs. Dahlkemper also supports that measure, but English was more hesitant.

He said that Congress has passed a real estate market-related bill already. “We need to measure anything else we add . . . against the fact that we’ve already passed a (real estate) bill.”

English added that any vote he makes will depend on how the bill looks when it hits the House floor. Mrs. Dahlkemper said her opinions are only based on what’s been reported on the potential bill and amendments so far.

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