Bailout negotiations “dissolved into a verbal brawl” at the White House yesterday, as some House Republicans, led by Eric Cantor (R-VA), said they wouldn’t back a bipartisan negotiation on the package. The House GOP faction stunned the participants at the meeting yesterday by announcing their own plan which “advocates tax cuts and relaxed regulations.”
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has said the House GOP proposal would not work. “Democratic leaders questioned McCain’s involvement in the House Republicans’ opposition to the plan.” McCain met with House GOP leaders before heading to the White House, but neither party seemed to know what they were talking about:
Boehner and McCain discussed the bailout plan, but Republican leadership aides described the conversation as somewhat surreal. Neither man was familiar with the details of the proposal being pressed by House conservatives, and up to the moment they departed for the White House yesterday afternoon, neither had seen any description beyond news reports.
At 1:25 p.m., McCain left Boehner’s office through a back door, walking across the Capitol’s rotunda to the applause of tourists. Graham conceded the group knew little about the plan the nominee had come to Washington to try to shape.
At the bipartisan White House meeting that McCain “didn’t speak until 43 minutes into the meeting.” He “sat silently for more than 40 minutes, more observer than leader, and then offered only a vague sense of where he stood, said people in the meeting.”
Sen. Chris Dodd said, “Instead of being a rescue plan for our economy it was a rescue plan for John McCain.” Sen. Chuck Schumer urged Bush to “respectfully tell Sen. McCain to get out of town. He’s not helping.” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid added, “We had [Republican] Senator [Bob] Bennett, a high ranking official, who said these are the principles. And then, guess who came to town? And it all fell apart.”
McCain’s handling of the negotiations serves to underscore his comment in Dec. 2007 that he is “not an expert on Wall Street” and “not an expert of some of this stuff”:
McCain still won’t say what his position is on the bailout. As Fox’s Carl Cameron reported, McCain has “studiously not taken a position.”