Callahan says he would have opposed the bailouts (Updated)
Democratic congressional hopeful John Callahan is adamant that he would have voted against both financial bailouts that came before Congress in 2008—both the $700-billion measure that didn’t pass and the $850-billion bill that did.
“I want to be very clear about where I stand on both of those bailouts,” Callahan, the Bethlehem mayor, said in a recent interview with pa2010.com. “If I had to vote on either version of the bailout, I would have opposed both of them because neither had… necessary taxpayer protections.”
His comments came a couple weeks after his campaign manager told pa2010.com that the 15th District candidate would have voted for the first bailout, but against the second. That put Callahan in an awkward position: the White House recruit for the Lehigh Valley seat has been a fierce critic of incumbent Republican Charlie Dent’s support for the second bailout bill, and Dent’s campaign called hypocrisy.
Callahan’s camp has since signaled that the initial comments by his campaign manager were incorrect. But the confusion underscores the conundrum faced by congressional challengers from both parties when they criticize an unpopular measure they never had to vote for or against—and one credited by many for preventing an economic meltdown. Earlier this year, Republican Mary Beth Buchanan hit a much bigger roadblock in the 4th Congressional District, when she voiced opposition for the bailouts after also saying they saved the economy from collapse.
Callahan has left himself significantly more rhetoric wiggle room—the furthest campaign insiders have usually gone is to call the bailouts “necessary.” Nonetheless, Callahan was clearly looking to put the issue to rest, and to put the focus back on whether or not Dent will vote for the financial reform bill that will soon come back before Congress.
“We need common-sense Wall Street reform to prevent future bailouts, to make sure that we have proper consumer protection and to strengthen the oversight,” Callahan said. “This is an important issue going forward because Charlie Dent doesn’t believe that.” Callahan also said “I do not accept [the] premise” that taking the time to put more taxpayer protections into the bailout measure would have risked a financial collapse.
Dent campaign manager Shawn Millan said Callahan’s latest tack was nothing more than political posturing.
“Mayor Callahan sticks his finger in the air and says he would have voted against [the bailouts],” Millan said “They wind up contorting themselves into a pretzel to change their message.”
UPDATE: A Dent campaign statement released Monday afternoon cites this article in saying that Callahan “flip-flops.” In the statement, Dent campaign manager Shawn Millan says “it’s increasingly obvious that John Callahan doesn’t know what he’s talking about, period. His campaign says one thing, then comes up with a completely absurd effort to change its message, and now completely reverses itself.”
June 14, 2010 at 9:45 am