Published Monday, October 10, 2011
By Jeff Bishop
The Newnan Times-Herald
U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville) told a standing-room-only crowd at the Republican party's monthly breakfast Saturday one of his top priorities has been to get credit flowing again in the wake of the recent unprecedented financial crisis.
"There's been a big wreck on the expressway, and we've got to clear it," said Westmoreland. "We've got to get rid of that wreck."
Georgia has had "more bank failures than any other state," he said. Government hasn't made things any easier on local communities with the ineffective methods that have been employed to deal with the crisis.
"We should never have done TARP. We should have let some of these institutions fail," Westmoreland said. That likely would have spared many community banks from going under, he said. Coweta County wound up losing all three of its local banks.
The government is auctioning off the assets of many of these failed banks for pennies on the dollar, which is completely unnecessary, Westmoreland said.
Performing loans are routinely written down, he said, and borrowers are forced to pony up substantial sums at the very time they are most vulnerable and can least afford it. The inevitable results are foreclosures, mounting losses, and ultimately bank failures, he said.
"This is hurting our property values. It's hurting everybody," said Westmoreland.
"These are community banks that have been around for 100 years. We're talking generational wealth. We're talking about people losing their savings, their retirement, funds for the education of their children. All of that has gone down the drain."
Westmoreland said he's been frustrated that his attempts to examine the reasons for these failures have died in the Senate. He said he's also frustrated with the growing power of government, and especially with the power of the Obama administration, which he compared to a "kingdom."
"When someone controls your ability to have credit, when they control your access to health care, when they control who gets into college and who doesn't, when they even control how much energy and what kind of energy you can have, that's our life. We've got to break these chains."
He said Congressmen often get "lost in the Beltway" after they've been elected to office.
"They need to go back home and see the people they work for," Westmoreland said.
"If we just try to get along, we're going to lose our base," he said. "We've got to maintain our base. The Democrats shore up their base, and only then do they go after other voters. We don't do that. We've got to tend to the base."
He said many Republicans seem to believe they're at a "masquerade party," and they wear "Democratic costumes," and "forget who they really are."
Republicans "have got to have our own identity," he said.
Although "no one wants a government shutdown," he said, Republicans can't afford to compromise their core principles.
"I had a friend in high school who almost killed me in a car wreck," he said. "He was still my best friend. But I didn't always ride in the car with him, anymore."
He urged local Republicans to "be mindful of what is going on" at the local, state, and national levels.
"Sometimes when you fight a war, people suffer," he said.