As promised, I had a chance to talk to Nick Leibham, the attorney who is trying to oust Brian Bilbray from his congressional seat representing North County and parts of the city of San Diego.
Remember, Bilbray was one of the many members of Congress who were able to kill the massive bailout package for the financial sector.
“The American taxpayers are being asked to assume a $700 billion burden to bailout Wall Street with little more than a promise and a congressional report that this is just a one time deal,” Bilbray said in a statement.
So what does Leibham think about that?
“Brian Bilbray put politics and his own party above his country and Main Street. We are sitting on the edge of a fiscal abyss. In very short order, we could very well see a global financial recession that could make the Asian financial crisis of 1998 or the Mexican Peso crisis of 1994 look like a song. He put politics above our families,” Leibham told me.
He went on.
“The package that is looking to firm up the capital markets is not perfect. I’ll be the first to admit that. But we are bleeding and you have got to cauterize the wound before more damage is done,” he said.
But I was curious. If Bilbray put his party and politics above the needs of the country, what did Bob Filner do? The South Bay congressman also voted against the package and used just as strong of language to impugn it.
But he’s a Democrat so he could have hardly been trying to put Bilbray’s Republican Party above the interests of the “Main Street” (is anyone else as sick of hearing “Main Street” as I am?).
“Anybody who voted against the package either didn’t understand the U.S. economy and the effect on Main Street this crisis is having or they put politics first. Either you don’t understand or you don’t care,” he said.
There you go. Bilbray and Filner and everyone else who voted against it either didn’t understand or didn’t care.
Leibham also had two good points I hadn’t thought of: There should be protections in place to ensure that anyone crafting or working on the bill now doesn’t take advantage of their knowledge of its potential and get a job on Wall Street raking it all in. Obviously, there are conflict of interest laws on the books, but they should be reviewed.
And he wanted to see a discussion of just how the federal government planned to value all of these toxic securities it will be unburdening banks of.
So another natural question arose: These are valid points that would give anyone, say even, a congressman, pause before voting on a massive bailout. Should he be so quick to judge, then, those who couldn’t approve it yet?
No, Leibham said.
“The most important thing is to restore some confidence so that they can start lending again,” he said.