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Sen. Jeff Flake Regrets Voting Against Wall Street Bank Bailouts

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) voted against the Wall Street bailouts in 2008. However, he recently admitted in his book that he regrets his conservative vote.

Sen. Jeff Flake, at the time a congressman from Arizona, voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which created the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to purchase failing Wall Street assets. In effect, the federal government bailed out some of the largest Wall Street firms such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase.

In Flake’s new book, Conscience of a Conservative, which was meant to echo conservative icon Sen. Barry Goldwater’s similarly named book, he wrote,

TARP was actually a modest price to pay to forestall a global depression. My vote against the bill is a vote that I still regret. That the vote did not hurt me politically is immaterial. That the bill was attacked from both right and left, and as a matter of policy was deeply flawed, is beside the point. Here’s what mattered: At a moment of national and global crisis, that vote was an abdication of my responsibility as a member of Congress.

“My TARP vote was more an act of cowardice than conscience. I knew what needed to be done. I just left it up to my colleagues to do it,” the Arizona senator added.

Prior to the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, then Rep. Jeff Flake opposed the proposed Wall Street bailouts on the House floor. Flake stated:

Mr. Speaker, I rise today in opposition to this bailout not because I don’t believe we face financial crisis in this country. I rise in opposition to this bailout because I know we are in a financial crisis, one that will be prolonged with this legislation.

The premise of this unprecedented government intervention is that the free market has failed and that government must come to its rescue.

In reality, the crisis we now face is a result of government intervention in the market. We are in this predicament largely because implicit, and eventually explicit, Federal guarantees in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shielded the financial services sector from market discipline.

Madam Speaker, those who believe that they can control and direct the market’s invisible hand will eventually be slapped by it. That is the painful and embarrassing situation we find ourselves in today. We don’t have enough money in the Federal Treasury, nor can we responsibly borrow enough money, to keep the market from finding its natural bottom.

Conservative radio host Mark Levin on Tuesday chastised Sen. Flake, calling him a “liberal.” Levin said, “So here we have Flake who takes the title of the book ‘Conscience of a Conservative,’ the cover of the book which is not identical but very close to the original cover of ‘Conscience of a Conservative,’ slaps his own meaningless, imbecilic arguments inside the cover of a book called ‘Conscience of a Conservative,’ to justify his liberal sell-out agenda.”

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