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December 21, 2014

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Economy:

Democratic challengers back Treasury plan, with provisions

Congressional candidates Dina Titus and Jill Derby provided statements Tuesday about Washington’s proposed Wall Street bailout that were more detailed than those of the House incumbents they are running against.

Titus, a Las Vegas Democrat, said she would support the Bush administration plan to buy up to $700 billion worth of at-risk loans from investors only if it:

• Includes money for homeowners in danger of foreclosure.

• Places limits on executive pay for the heads of companies benefiting from the taxpayer-financed bailout.

• Imposes a tougher regulatory regime to prevent future meltdowns, including a return to Depression-era regulations eliminated in 1999 that many experts think could have helped prevent the economic crises.

Her opponent in the race, Rep. Jon Porter, declined to talk to the Sun, but issued a statement saying Congress is working quickly and carefully to “stabilize the economy in a manner that protects taxpayers and homeowners.”

The statement said Porter shares the anger and frustration of Nevadans and declared that “political posturing is nothing less than insulting” to constituents.

In remarks to the Sun, Titus said she supports creating a bipartisan agency, commission or quasi-governmental agency to oversee the bailout. Critics of the plan, citing contractor abuses in Iraq and elsewhere under the Bush administration, argue that the Treasury Department should not have exclusive oversight, especially of any private companies hired to execute the bailout.

Asked about the causes of the meltdown, Titus blamed the 1999 law, approved by a Republican Congress and signed by President Clinton, a Democrat. In the years since, “There was no oversight of the financial system, and greed has run amok,” she said.

Of the bailout, she said: “I hate it like a lot of people hate it.” Nevertheless, she said something must be done before the situation worsens and companies can’t borrow money and have to lay off more workers.

Titus is a Nevada state senator and was the Democratic candidate for governor in 2006. The 3rd Congressional District includes most of southern and eastern Clark County, extending to the Arizona border.

Derby, a Democrat from Gardnerville, said she supports an emergency plan, provided it includes independent oversight, limits on executive compensation for leaders of companies benefiting from the bailout, and relief for families facing foreclosure.

“We have to do something,” Derby said. “We have a giant gun to our head, and could face an economic implosion.”

Derby’s opponent, Republican Rep. Dean Heller, said he has not yet decided how he will vote.

“I’ve got to figure out two things: Whether or not government should be involved in this ... And if it is decided government should get involved, how involved should it be? This government bailout is getting closer and closer to a socialist government society.”

Heller said he does favor reining in exorbitant pay packages for departing corporate executives.

Derby, in comments to the Sun, expressed particular concern about Section 8 of the bailout proposal, which would make the Treasury secretary’s decision “nonreviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.”

“We have to have oversight and accountability now, because we’re paying the price for none of that in the past,” Derby said.

Of the cap on executive pay, she said: “I like the suggestion ... that none get more compensation than the highest-paid government employee ... the president.” The president is paid $400,000 a year.

Homeowners facing mortgage default need help, Derby added, because “home foreclosures hurt property values of everybody else in neighborhoods and communities. It’s everybody’s interest to help Nevadans first, allow them to renegotiate their loans.”

Derby served for 18 years on the university Board of Regents before running for Congress against Heller in 2006. The 2nd Congressional District includes parts of northern and western Clark County — and the rest of the state.

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