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Pa. senators support bailout bill

October 1, 2008 7:35:44 PM PDT
Pennsylvania's two senators joined a majority of their colleagues in voting to pass a $700 billion plan aimed at rescuing the ailing financial industry. Sens. Arlen Specter, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat, said they feared there would be dire economic consequences if it wasn't passed.

Specter said he recognizes the legislation is politically unpopular, and he's philosophically opposed to using taxpayer money to bail out entrepreneurs who took risks and failed. But to not vote for it, Specter said, "would be to risk a very, very substantial economic downturn, which would affect many if not most Americans."

Casey said he wants businesses to be able to get the credit they need to keep the economy rolling. He also said he's concerned about the thousands of Pennsylvanians who are unemployed; the state's unemployment rate climbed in August to a five-year high of 5.8 percent.

"I think we're going to continue to lose jobs, but I think we'd lose a lot more over the next year if we don't take this action," said Casey, a member of the Senate banking committee.

Casey said he doesn't view the plan as a bailout because taxpayers will benefit and the plans calls for oversight of how the money is spent.

The legislation was designed to allow the government to buy bad mortgages and other devalued assets held by troubled banks and financial institutions. It's next headed to the House.

Similar legislation failed Monday in the House, and the stock market fell dramatically. But the Senate legislation had some changes, such as $100 billion in tax breaks for businesses and the middle class.

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Associated Press Writer Maryclaire Dale in Philadelphia contributed to this story.


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