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Eye On Boise

Simpson: TARP was to avoid ‘economic Armageddon’

The Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP, has been a point of contention between Congressman Mike Simpson and his two GOP challengers. Asked about it tonight during the "Idaho Debates," Simpson said, "Both my opponents have criticized that vote as have many people." But he said the country's financial and credit system was on the brink of "economic Armageddon," a situation that would have left "every business in this country ... under severe financial stress," with a credit crunch so severe that McDonald's franchises across the country couldn't have met their payroll. "This was not a bank bailout," Simpson said. "It's the financial system you've got to protect." He added, "It is tied to the Constitution, it's tied to the first Congress that employed these powers in 1791 when they incorporated and chartered the first national bank of the United States." The Supreme Court reviewed the action and upheld it as constitutional, Simpson said. "They said ... doing so is necessary and proper."

Mathews responded, "I oppose the TARP and other bailouts. I'm not alone." He read from a press release from U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo - who voted against the move, as did then-Rep. Bill Sali, while Simpson and then-Sen. Larry Craig voted in favor. Said Mathews, "Bailouts will only make a bankruptcy far worse."

Heileson then took issue with Simpson's citing of the 1791 U.S. Supreme Court decision, questioning whether "either the Supreme Court or Congress or anybody ... can change the rules of the Constitution." He said, "The Constitution says that it's not in there and it's left to the states, that's plain and simple. ... If it's wrong, it's wrong." Simpson responded, "You know what? People disagree about the Constitution and what it says. ... This was 1791, this was two years after the Constitution was ratified, so these were the people that actually wrote it. Ultimately someone has to decide what the Constitution says. Now Chick has his opinion, Russ has his opinion, I have my opinion, we probably agree 90 percent of the time, maybe more. But somebody has to have the authority on what the Constitution says - that's the Supreme Court."

Eye On Boise

News, happenings and more from the Idaho Legislature and the state capital.