William Isaac was at home in Sarasota, Fla., last weekend looking forward to attending a Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game when calls for help began to come in from congressmen opposed to the Bush Administration's proposed financial industry bailout.
Convinced that supporters of the measure were on the wrong track, the 64-year-old northwest Ohio native and former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman hopped onto a plane for Washington.
It was the be-
ginning of a 24-hour effort in which Mr. Isaac, who helped resolve the nation's last banking crisis, in the 1980s, played a lead role in helping bring about the measure's defeat in the House on Monday.
The chairman of family-owned Isaac Property Co. in Bryan is headed back to Washington today and hopes to persuade
Congress and the administration that there are better alternatives to a revised proposal that would leave taxpayers on the hook for $700 billion.
"They're running a big risk," he said. "If they pass it and it doesn't work, we're in worse shape and we'll have less money to deal with the problem," the Bryan High School graduate told The Blade. "This is a horrible bill."
The U.S. Senate passed the measure last night, and members of the House of Representatives have been advised to be ready to vote tomorrow..
In recent days, Mr. Isaac has discussed his ideas with officials of the Bush Administration. But he declined to provide details.
Congressmen Bob Latta of Bowling Green and Democrat Marcy Kaptur of Toledo each have praised Mr. Isaac's contributions to the debate. Both voted against the bill Monday.
Miss Kaptur was among House members who asked Mr. Isaac, now a banking consultant at Secura Group in Washington, to come to the Capitol.
She knew the former Bryan resident from her work in the administration of Democrat Jimmy Carter in the 1980s. Mr. Carter named Mr. Isaac to the FDIC in 1978, and Republican Ronald Reagan appointed him chairman in 1981. Mr. Isaac served until 1985. The period included a crisis in the nation's savings and loan industry.
"He brought a real dose of reality," Miss Kaptur said. "He has worked in the banking sector his entire life. I liked his common sense and his horse sense."
Added Frederick Hill, spokesman for California Republican Congressman Darrell Issa: "Having an expert, skeptical voice finally brought to Capitol Hill did sway some votes."
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is seeking up to $700 billion to improve U.S. financial institutions' balance sheets by buying troubled home mortgages.
Mr. Isaac argues that the freeze in lending among banks could be cured for less money. Rather than buy mortgages, the U.S. Treasury could guarantee that no bank creditor or depositor would lose money in the current crisis.
He also has called for accounting modifications and continued restrictions on trading in bank stocks.
But supporters of measures proposed by the Treasury secretary argue that the crisis can be solved only by taking the bad mortgages off banks' books.
Mr. Isaac estimated that from Sunday afternoon, when he arrived in Washington, through Monday morning he spoke with 200 House members, both Republicans and Democrats.
Zac Isaac isn't surprised by his cousin's involvement in the debate.
William Isaac provided "strong, stable" leadership at the FDIC during another difficult period for the nation's economy, Zac Isaac said.
Zac Isaac, son of Bryan developer George Isaac, is executive vice president of Isaac Property Co.
The former FDIC chairman's brother, Charles "Butch" Isaac, is president. The company owns a large tract in Monclova Township around the Shops at Fallen Timbers as well as shopping centers in Bryan, Defiance, Findlay, and Bowling Green.
When he was asked to come to Washington over the weekend, William Isaac initially resisted. "While I was opposed to what was going on, I felt there was nothing I could do," he said.
He said he had concluded that the leadership of both parties would "railroad through" the bill.
But he was pleased with the 228-205 defeat of the measure Monday. "It was almost as good as watching a football game watching that vote seesaw back and forth. I am one happy guy for our country."
Supporters of the measure hope for a different outcome when the bill comes up for a re-vote.
Contact Gary Pakulski at:
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