State Comptroller Debate: LIVE BLOG PART TWO
7:37pm: Grace asks DiNapoli, did the $700 billion dollar bank bailout known as TARP work? Was it successful? Would you have voted for it if you had been in Congress?
What about the federal Stimulus bill? Did it work – or is it working? Would you have voted for it?
DiNapoli says that it remains to be seen, but given the economic condition he would have voted for the bailout. Blames Wilson and “his cronies” for getting the country in the mess in the first place. Says that if there was more help coming from DC he hopes it would be in the form of infrastructure that would help create jobs.
Wilson brings up DiNapoli’s accusation that “he and his friends wrecked the economy.” Says he had no idea he had that much power. Says that he can point to specifics in DiNapoli’s record and he can’t do the same. In terms of TARP, Wilson says that if he was in Congress the bill would have taken a different form because of his expertise. If he had to make a decision on the bill in the form that was passed, he would have held his nose and voted for it.
DiNapoli says he would take his public service record over Wilson’s record on Wall Street any day.
Wilson clarifies that he did not grow up on Wall Street, he grew up in Johnstown.
The candidates are getting into it and talking over each other.
7:32pm: Dick asks Wilson, New York State is one of only three states in the country that gives its state comptroller the sole authority to manage the pension fund and make investments. This current system helped the office of former state Comptroller Hevesi play political favorites in deciding with whom, and in what, to invest. In New York City, the comptroller works with five separate boards of trustees in making investment decisions. What is your view regarding reforming the way New York State makes investment decisions by establishing an independent board to help the state comptroller oversee investments?
Wilson says that the trustee model is broken and that is clear from all the scandals in the office. Thinks that NYS should take a page from investment firms by instituting an investment committee to work with the comptroller. The committee would help screen investments for more transparency.
DiNapoli says he would be worried by a committee made up of WIlson’s friends from Wall Street. Says there is an investment advisory committee in place. Has a concern about replacing current structure with a politicized board. Says his office implemented pension fund task force that recommended beefing the committee.
Wilson says that a number of the members of DiNapoli’s board have left because they did not trust DiNapoli’s leadership.
DiNapoli gets testy with WIlson for bringing up investigations that began before he got to the office and to suggest that people left the advisory board because they had issues with his leadership.
7:28pm: Liz asks DiNapoli, both of you have pledged not to invest in countries with terror ties, specifically Iran, yet you have also indicated, through spokespeople, that preventing financial risk to the pension fund takes precedence over all other considerations – including politics. Where do you draw the line in terms of which companies are off limits. What about companies that involved in the mining of so-called Blood or conflict diamonds? Or those with investments in countries without child labor laws?
DiNapoli says that he draws the line on genocide and cites Darfur and cites comments by the Iranian president. Says his office has divested from companies that do business with the Sudan and Iran. Says if the companies respond appropriately, they may be put back on the list to invest. Says the ultimate goal is to protect the interest of the fund, but you can do so while being socially responsible.
Wilson says that he has some common ground on the subject. Says that there are still some companies that should be divested from that have ties to Iran.
7:26pm: Juan asks Wilson, NYC Comptroller Liu threatened to boycott companies the City had investments in if they didn’t pressure Arizona to discard SB 1070. Would you do the same?
Wilson says that is a classic example of a comptroller injecting personal politics into investments with the pension fund. Says grandstanding by a politician is not appropriate.
DiNapoli says he and Liu wrote to companies saying they say risks to investments with the law in Arizona. Says it was a way to point out a concern about sustainability of where the investments are.
Wilson says his statement stands on its own.
7:23pm: The panelists are resuming their questioning now.
Pat asks DiNapoli, several major income tax cuts implemented during the Bush administration are set to expire. Do you support extending them?
DiNapoli says he supports Pres. Obama’s position on this subject.
Wilson says that at this point in the economy he does not support a tax increase on anyone. Blames DiNapoli’s record in the Assembly for high taxes in NYS.
DiNapoli defends his record in the Assembly and says that the biggest problems in the economy are a result of the “wizards on Wall Street.”
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