Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., said voters have been understanding of his reasons for changing his vote last week in support of the $700 billion congressional bailout package.
“Today, actually half the people I meet with say, ‘I know you didn’t have much choice, but I’m just mad we had to do it,” Rep. Wamp said.
A “mountain of evidence” from pension managers, small businesses and insurance companies in the district showed that not voting for the package could lead to a larger and longer recession, he said.
“Are we going to allow our country to go into a long-term recession when the whole world is tied to our economy?” Rep. Wamp asked.
Rep. Wamp first voted against the bailout bill endorsed by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. He was later one of 58 U.S. representatives — and the only one in Tennessee — to change their mind within days of the first vote.
Candidates running against Rep. Wamp in the Nov. 4 general election expressed mixed reactions to his stance on the bill. Independent candidate Ed Choate said he did not agree that voters were understanding of the vote.
“They don’t feel like lending money to the banks is a solution,” he said. “We need to find a way to help the people directly.”
Independent candidate Jean Howard-Hill said she agreed with Rep. Wamp, but said she would’ve voted for the bill from the outset. She believes inadequate research on Rep. Wamp’s part led to his first “no” vote.
“He would have understood the impact of what it had,” she said. “It was his lack of knowledge and understanding.”
Democratic candidate Doug Vandagriff called the whole bill a “Wall Street bailout” for special interest groups and said he would have never have voted it.
“It’s more government for the American taxpayer,” he said. “We’re close to total government.”