Al Franken expressed skepticism today about the proposed $700 billion bailout package, saying that he wouldn’t vote for the plan until he was absolutely convinced it would protect taxpayers.
He’s not there yet, he said.
“It’s really a sad day in America when taxpayers are asked to foot the bill for a mess they didn’t make,” Franken said, shortly before a bipartisan House majority rejected the bailout bill this afternoon.
The DFL Senate candidate said that he won’t support a bill that leaves out the six conditions he spelled out last week: congressional oversight, ownership stakes for taxpayers in companies seeking relief, no golden parachutes for executives, restoration of regulations, a moratorium on home foreclosures and creation of a financial products safety commission.
But he cautioned against rushing to push the bill through. He noted that the package represents more money than the government spends every year for Social Security, or has already spent on the war in Iraq.
Franken spoke to reporters in a conference call announcing that he had received the endorsement of the political action committee of the National Farmers Union. Doug Peterson, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, said Franken has a solid understanding and interest in farming.
Peterson criticized Republican Sen. Norm Coleman, Franken’s opponent, for supporting the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and opposing country-of-origin food labeling (which, Coleman says, would raise the price of food).
Franken laid out his rural agenda, which includes promoting wind energy and biofuel production, halting farm subsidies to non-farmers, fair trade, implementing country-of-origin labeling and investing in infrastructure and broadband Internet for rural areas.
He also responded to comments from former state Sen. Doug Johnson, a longtime Iron Range DFLer and legislative powerbroker who said this weekend that he will vote for Coleman because, he said, Franken is too “angry” to accomplish anything in Washington.
For Johnson, it will be a first — he’s never voted for a Republican. “I’ve never been a ticket splitter before, but the problems on the Range, state and country are too severe to stick with one political party,” he said, according to the Mesabi Daily News.
Said Franken: “I’ve said that there have been times that I have gotten outraged at things that have happened in this country … My question is, why hasn’t Norm gotten outraged? I know the difference between being a public figure and being an office holder. I’ll be able to work very well with friends across the aisle on all kinds of things.”
Franken added that he didn’t believe Johnson’s defection represented weak support for him on the Range, traditionally one of Minnesota’s most Democratic areas.
“I’m actually very proud of my support on the Range, and if you talk to any of the state legislators up there, [Tom] Rukavina or [Tony] Sertich … my support is deep and wide,” he said.