|PHOTOS BY MARK WILSON/GLOBE STAFFSenator John E. Sununu, a Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a former Democratic governor, sparred over the recently passed economic bailout yesterday at a forum in New Hampshire. The candidates differed on their views of the bill's level of oversight. (PHOTOS BY MARK WILSON/GLOBE STAFF)|
N.H. candidates spar over bailout
Sununu, Shaheen differ on oversight
NEW CASTLE, N.H. - Senator John E. Sununu defended the economic bailout law at a forum yesterday against allegations from challenger Jeanne Shaheen that Congress did not work hard enough to find a better solution.
Shaheen said the bill Congress passed last week does not do enough to ensure that taxpayers' money would be used wisely. She called for more oversight of Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson's distribution of the billions of dollars in the bill and of the banks that will receive the money.
"We were presented with a false choice between a bad bailout bill and no bill at all," said Shaheen, a former Democratic governor. "There was a third choice: Work to get it right. That's what Congress should have done."
Sununu, a Republican in his first term, countered that the law provides oversight and said that although it isn't perfect, something needed to be done to tend to the financial crisis.
"A suggestion was made that it was a false choice between supporting the package that was put together and doing nothing," he said. "Frankly, that isn't a false choice. That's exactly the tough choice that members of the United States Senate have to make."
Each candidate was allotted 20 minutes to speak before fielding questions at the Chamber of Commerce forum. Shaheen focused on the economy, energy, and healthcare. She also said balancing the federal budget is imperative.
"I believe this reckless spending is hurting us today and will affect the lives of our children and our children's children," she said.
She pledged to end no-bid contracts for companies seeking government work and to support a pay-as-you-go spending policy that does not add to the federal deficit. Options for improving New Hampshire's economy should include investing in alternative energy projects, she said.
"Drilling alone is not going to solve our problem," Shaheen said. "The real answer is to end the subsidies to the oil companies."
Instead, she said, the money should be used for energy research and development.
In his address, Sununu repeatedly said he is not a traditional Republican and is not afraid to cross party lines to get things done. He pointed to his opposition of the renewal of the Patriot Act, saying he went against his party to force changes to protect privacy rights.