It's disappointing and sad that our senator, Robert Bennett, is falling for this "taxpayer cash for Wall Street trash" bailout in his capacity as second-ranking member of the Senate Banking Committee. It's noteworthy that the ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Shelby, so far seems to understand this foolishness.

Back in the 1997-2001 time period when I served on the House Banking Committee and, specifically, on the House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, I was a strong advocate of Congressman Richard Baker's plan to rein in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac by taking away their treasury line of credit, stopping their intense lobbying of Congress and breaking them up into much smaller entities that would compete with each other on a free enterprise basis. I tried to get Sen. Bennett to support the Baker plan in the Senate. He did not. Instead he became the largest Senate Republican recipient of Freddie and Fannie campaign contributions, third in the overall Senate next to Democrats Chris Dodd and Barack Obama. The abuses of Freddie and Fannie over two decades are at the heart of the current crisis.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson insists this is, for the most part, a liquidity crisis, not a real solvency crisis. If, indeed, Wall Street financial institutions and banks really need hundreds of billions from the government for this bailout, lest our economy go into a depression, let it be in the form of loans that must be paid back with interest. With the millions of dollars most of the senators and representatives have been taking from these Wall Street welfare cases masquerading as financial institutions, don't hold your breath for this sensible solution.


Merrill Cook is a former member of the House of Representatives from Utah.