Jim Walsh: the exit interview

The Congressman sorted through two decades of memorabilia, preparing to close his local office after 20 years in the House of Representatives. He was preparing to end an era.

For Jim Walsh, the era began upon graduating from St. Bonaventure and volunteering for the Peace Corps in 1970. He returned home two years later to become a caseworker in the Onondaga County Department of Social Services, where his father, William Walsh, had been commissioner before serving as mayor, and later in Congress.

Jim Walsh won a seat on the Syracuse Common Council, where he founded and chaired the Housing and Homeless Vulnerable Task Force, and served as Republican Majority Leader before being elected Council President. During his tenure in Congress, Walsh brought home about $1 billion dollars in bacon through the federal funding pipeline, and negotiated with the Bush administration for $20 billion for New York City's recovery after 9/11.

Will there be a massive bailout for the rest of us, other than the major financial institutions, perhaps a massive public works program?

Here's what I think. I think that we have a recession. And we do have recessions. Every 10 years or so we have one. So we're having one. It's deeper than average, but it's not a depression. And we'll come out of it. We also have this credit crisis, which is a function of wealthy people trying to get richer, people buying way too much house than they can afford, way too much car than they can afford, spending more than they earn. We're all guilty of it. Pretty much everybody's guilty of it. It was a house of cards and it came down.

Short term, it's going to be hard for people. But it's a good thing for the country, I think. Thus far in this process, who's gotten hurt? The big people have gotten hurt. Not the little people. The big people, like Madoff, who was ripping people off - he got nailed. People at Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs and Shearson Lehman, those at the top, they're going to make less money now. Is that a bad thing? It is for them, but maybe not for everybody else. And let me just say this: since this started, the price of gasoline has gone $4.80 a gallon to $1.80 a gallon. That's good for the little guy.

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