ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports: Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., demonstrated the most obvious turnaround on the TARP funding vote in the Senate Thursday, by which senators agreed to write President-elect Barack Obama a $350 billion blank check with his assurance, via letters from economic adviser Larry Summers, that the money would be spent with greater accountability than it has been under President Bush.
"No further TARP funds should be released until we are able to impose strict standards of accountability and ensure that the money is spent only as intended by Congress –- to purchase mortgage-backed securities and other troubled assets and provide help to homeowners who are on the brink of losing their most important investment and roofs over their heads," said McCain in a written statement.
McCain had suspended his presidential campaign in September to make a show of coming to Washington, D.C., and helping create the $700 billion TARP bill that ultimately became law. He also said after the TARP vote Thursday that he opposed the use of some of the first $350 billion in funds to bail out the American auto industry.
But McCain’s was not the only about-face since the November election.
There are seven new Democratic senators in office after the November election. And an eighth, Al Franken in Minnesota, is ahead in the vote count pending a court battle.
All but two of those new Democrats ran against the original TARP legislation as an unjust bailout for Wall Street fat cats. Mark Warner of Virginia and Mark Begich of Alaska both said during the campaign they would support the bill. But the other six Democrats who defeated unseated (or seem poised to unseat) Republicans, all said they’d oppose the bill.
Cousins Tom and Mark Udall from New Mexico and Colorado, respectively, voted against the TARP bill in the House, but for releasing the second half of funds yesterday.
"The circumstances have now changed," said Tom Udall in a statement explaining his vote. "President-elect Obama has committed to me that in using these funds he will carefully reinvest in our economy with increased accountability and oversight to help stabilize our middle class. He also committed to implementing the needed safeguards I have been advocating from the outset of this debate."
But back in October, before his election to the Senate, Udall said he voted against the bailout because "it did too little for homeowners, too much for executives, and nothing to prevent Wall Street from repeating the mistakes that got us into this crisis … It will still put New Mexico and U.S. taxpayers on the hook for $700 billion to bail out Wall Street, the very people whose irresponsibility helped to undermine America’s economy and threaten the jobs and life savings of millions of American families…"
It was a similar story for his cousin Mark in Colorado.
Jeff Merkeley in Oregon ran an ad attacking then-Sen. Gordon Smith for supporting the TARP legislation, but Thursday, after taking the seat from Smith, Merkeley voted to release the second half of the money he thought never should have been passed in the first place.
In fact, of the five new Democratic senators whose TARP position was Nay pre-election, only New Hampshire Sen. Jean Shaheen voted against giving Obama the second half of the money.