Congressman Charles Boustany must have expected his recent vote for a $700 billion financial sector bailout would be one of the issues brought up in last night’s debate. However, he probably didn’t anticipate it being the sole issue. On question after question — whether it be on health care, education or coastal erosion — his opponents, Democratic state Sen. Don Cravins and U.S. Constitution Party candidate Peter Vidrine, repeatedly circled back to the bailout bill to point out that $700 billion could go a long way toward solving the state’s other problems. Vidrine was especially passionate in his condemnation of the bailout bill, labeling it “communism for the rich” and repeatedly calling it “a disgrace.” For his part, Cravins noted the stock market’s sizeable drop yesterday in alleging that the bailout bill has done nothing but benefit wealthy Wall Street brokers.
Boustany’s first opportunity to defend his vote came after an audience member asked a question to Peter Vidrine about the bailout bill. Moderator Hoyt Harris then turned to each of the other two candidates to allow them a 45 second rebuttal. “Great, 45 seconds,” Boustany said, clearly overwhelmed with how to condense his answer on such a complex subject. At the end of the debate, Boustany had more time when he was asked directly about the baiout by Vidrine. “I was hearing from folks all over southwest Louisiana, bankers and others, who were very concerned,” Boustany said. He also noted that "some of these investment bankding houses are going to be in some serious trouble and they need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Citing the national credit failure, Boustany tried to hammer home how the crisis would trickle down to affect working and middle class families. “Student loans,” he said, “there are no student loans out there. No funding for bridge projects. What are you going to do? This is a very serious threat to the economy. Congress had the authority to act and it should act.”