Bailout Bill Passes — Now What?

Senior Washington Editor Ron Elving offers an analysis of the House vote on the $700 billion bailout package. He also discusses Sen. John McCain's decision to halt his campaign efforts in Michigan.

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ALEX CHADWICK, host:

It's Day to Day. I'm Alex Chadwick.

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

I'm Madeleine Brand. In a few minutes, tired of all this stressful, depressing economic news? Escape this weekend. We'll tell you which new movies the critics like.

CHADWICK: First, a little more of that economics news and politics thrown in. We said earlier the House is taking another vote on an economic fix. NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving joins us. Ron, where are we at this point?

RON ELVING: The House is about to vote, Alex and it appears by the body language, by the tone of the speeches, by the switchers we have seen that they do have the 218 votes and then some. They will need to approve this package as it came out of the Senate. The Rules Committee voted down all of the amendments that were proposed. So, there was some struggle over bringing the bill to the floor. The vote on the rule that would have sent it back to the Rules Committee to consider amendments was fairly close, 223 to 205. I do not believe the final passage vote coming up here very shortly will be that close. I think that this rescue plan will be passed handily by the House.

CHADWICK: You followed this all very closely. There's some kind of process thing going on that I've been hearing about, they're only going to take a vote if they're absolutely sure it's going to pass this time?

ELVING: Yes. But I think the very fact that they have been debating it for the last 90 minutes and the fact that they did bring it to the floor for a rule vote earlier today as I mentioned, proves that they think they have the votes. And, I'm also watching the debate, and I'm watching the body language of the opponents. I'm watching the body language of people who have come over to explain why they are switching no votes from Monday to yes votes on Friday and all of it sums up - all of it goes together in a bouquet of saying that this bill is going to pass today.

CHADWICK: A bouquet - your scent - the scent is positive.

ELVING: It has the scent of success today.

CHADWICK: Well, let me ask you about what we're smelling out of Michigan. I'm going to walk away from that metaphor but...

(Soundbite of laughter)

CHADWICK: Senator McCain's campaign has said that it's pulling its resources out of the state of Michigan when you and I spoke earlier before the show, you said, why would they do this publicly? So, why would they do this publicly? Why do it at all?

ELVING: Two surprises. First, why do it at all? We have a little less than five weeks to go. Michigan is a state that has been close. It's one of the states that John McCain needs to pull away from the Democratic base if he's going to have a little bit of insurance. Otherwise, he's counting entirely on winning those states that were won by George W. Bush in 2000 or 2004. And, several of those states that Bush won in 2004, states like Iowa and New Hampshire look like they're heading for Barack Obama. We're particularly looking at Iowa and New Mexico I should say. New Hampshire voted for John Kerry in 2004. But those swing states seemed to be going in Obama's direction, and there are some other more deep dyed red states such as Virginia, which has not voted for a Democrat for president since 1964 in LBJ, that are trending Obama.

So, obviously John McCain needs to snatch some states away from the Democratic base. Michigan looked like a pretty good bet. It was a single digit state. But right now, it's beginning to trend away to Obama and the McCain campaign need to husband its resources, needs to be careful about where it spend its money. It's on the public funding. It is not free to raise more money on its own. So they are trying to target their money very carefully and right now they're thinking Michigan is not a particularly good bet. And once the word started getting around within the political community, it was pretty hard to deny. So yesterday evening, they went ahead and acknowledged that.

CHADWICK: That's a pretty hard thing to say I would think.

ELVING: Yes, indeed it is because it really reduces them to three targets up there around the great lakes and the big ten football states that they're still going after- Minnesota, which hasn't voted Republican for president since Richard Nixon in 1972. Wisconsin, which has been in the Democratic column since 1988 or rather that was the last time it was in the Republican column - oh no, excuse me, it has been in the Democratic column since 1988, and Pennsylvania which has gone Democratic the last four times running. Those are the three, they're still going after up in that Great Lakes tier.

CHADWICK: One other item. There has been some polling since the vice presidential debate last night. Undecided voters say, they liked Joe Biden's performance. Is any of this really going to matter 32 days from now?

ELVING: Probably not given that the preponderance of polling seems to show that people thought Joe Biden did a better job in the debate overall or if you will, won the debate. Now, of course, everyone's been commenting on Sarah Palin's performance which was better than expected. But, it doesn't seem to be making a big game changer kind of difference because people in the end preferred Biden as vice president.

CHADWICK: NPR senior Washington editor Ron Elving with us from Washington again and following that debate and the vote to come on the House floor. Ron, thanks.

ELVING: Thank you, Alex.

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