TENANTS HARBOR – As a Maine voter with more than 30 years of voting support for liberal Democrats and Independents, I am stunned at the misinformation being portrayed as “truths “in four May 5 letters to the editor.

All four of these letters bash Maine’s Republican senators for their “support of obstructive tactics with the goal of looser regulation on Wall Street” or worse yet, following “the extreme agenda of the Republican leadership who have vowed to ‘break’ the president.”

In addition, the claim that “Senate Republicans, who have recently had a massive infusion of campaign donations from Wall Street, are seeking terms more beneficial to Wall Street,” makes the inference that Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe have accrued monetary benefits to their campaign funds because of their involvement with the Republican filibuster of this so-called financial reform bill put forth by Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

None of these assertions has any basis in fact, and all one has to do is examine the data released by the Federal Election Commission to see why.

The Center for Responsive Politics collates all FEC reports. The following facts and figures (rounded to one decimal point) illustrate the truth.

To date in 2010, Senate Democrats raised $28.8 million from political action committees (PACs) and $123.7 million from individuals, for a total of $152.5 million.

Republicans in the Senate raised $22.6 million from PACs and $110.1 million from individuals for a total of $132.7 million.

Do the math. Just in the Senate, Democrats are way ahead in money coming from PACs and individuals.

On May 7, The Wall Street Journal reported that so far in 2010, $5.3 million has been provided to Senate Democrats by the securities and finance businesses, three times the amount given to Senate Republicans in the same period.

The top recipients of Wall Street largesse in this $5.3 million infusion? Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., got $1.4 million, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., got $630,000, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., got $530,000.

The Democrats have gotten far more money from Wall Street interests, but they would like to keep spreading the “big lie” that this isn’t the case.

Sens. Collins and Snowe have acted far more responsibly than these letter writers are trying to imply.

The Republican opposition to this bill has been based on objections to serious flaws in the 1,500-plus-page document.

This bill has so many flaws that could ultimately affect Maine consumers that our senators should be applauded for trying to block it temporarily, to insist on discussion and amendments.

Examples of some flaws in the original bill: It sets in legislation the concept of “too big to fail” as a basis for the government to guarantee the debts of giant banking companies far beyond the paltry $50 billion banking industry funded “orderly liquidation fund,” committing taxpayers to up to 90 percent of the fair value of the failed bank or company. Guess who provides that money? Not Wall Street — Main Street.

The bill leaves unreformed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the primary government-backed mortgage funding disasters of the financial crisis; both of these are still hemorrhaging money.

In the first quarter of 2010, there are $8 billion losses from Freddie Mac alone, and a request for another $10.6 billion in taxpayer money right away.

Just recall that Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., assured us, as this was all coming unraveled, that Fannie and Freddie were in fine shape. They lost $126.9 billion just in 2009 alone.

It was Republican Sens. John McCain, John Shelby and Judd Gregg who introduced an amendment to the bill on May 5 to reform Fannie and Freddie.

I guess in the rush to write those 1,500 pages the Democratic leadership just overlooked this detail.

Sens. Collins and Snowe have both sponsored various useful amendments to this odious piece of legislation — the best they can do given the circumstances.

With thoughtful concern on their part for the eventual impact of the details of this bill on Maine residents, they have done right by us, and the country as a whole.

If the bill finally gets true bipartisan review, and more adjustments to correct major flaws, we might all breathe a sigh of relief.

But let’s be honest about all this, what is shameful is that the Democratic Party is propagandizing and demonizing for political gain, not offering meaningful solutions for the future of our economy.

 

– Special to the Press Herald