Utahns are flooding their members of Congress with thousands of calls and e-mails about the proposed $700 billion bailout for failing financial firms. And most hotly oppose it.
Most of Utah's U.S. legislators say they are still undecided and looking at all options. However, Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, is among House-Senate negotiators who say they are close to a compromise they feel will pass this week.
Bennett told a press conference, "I now expect we will indeed have a plan that can pass the House, pass the Senate, be signed by the president and bring some sense of certainty to this crisis that is still roiling in the markets."
Meanwhile, other Utah members say they are being swamped with calls from upset voters.
"This week I've received hundreds of calls and e-mails, nearly all in opposition to the plan. It's a level of outrage unlike any in recent memory," said Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah. "As one caller put it, 'I feel like someone first stole my car, and now they are asking me to pay for the gas."'
Matheson said about the Bush administration's proposed bailout, "I'm still studying the emerging details, but at the moment I am very dubious because no expert has yet said if or how the bailout plan will get to the bottom of the mess and actually work."
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he's also heard from hundreds of Utahns. "In general, callers were opposed to the intentions of the proposal, government regulators' inability to catch poor decision-making, executive pay or the power the proposal would give to the treasury secretary."
He added, "Congress must be very careful as we work to solve this crisis. We must balance the interests of taxpayers with the desire to restore confidence in our financial markets."
Scott Parker, chief of staff to Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, said the volume of calls and e-mails to his office has been picking up every day, and the "vast majority oppose the bailout." He said Bishop is "not crazy about any of the options right now" but will continue to study proposals.
Omar Raschid, an aide to Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, said his office has been receiving about 100 calls a day on the bailout.
"It's interesting. On Monday, when the proposal was first announced, most calls were 100 percent against it. But as more details have come out and different ideas have circulated, more people have started to come around," he said.Raschid said Cannon "is still weighing all the options."
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