WASHINGTON - - Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) voted against the federal financial bailout by the Bush administration, and she has doubts about the proposal outlined by President Barack Obama's treasury secretary last week.
Gillibrand, who spent 15 years as a Manhattan securities attorney, is not worried that the government is playing too large a role in trying to rescue credit-frozen banks.
Instead, she said she is concerned the plan sketched out by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner does not take enough control of bailed-out financial firms, a mistake that she said former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson made.
Gillibrand promotes the solution Sweden used to resolve its meltdown in 1992, in which the government took over banks and forced them to recapitalize and write down their assets.
"This doesn't have to be a long-term nationalization," Gillibrand said. "We don't want to own these banks long term. We just want to get them on a healthy footing."
She is not yet sold on Geithner, either, saying she'll have to meet him, learn more about his views and past performance in the bailout, and see what he does in the future.
"He was in the room with Paulson," she said, when Paulson created the plan for the first $350 billion in bailout money. "I want to know, did he agree with Paulson's approach?"
She said she's "hopeful" Geithner is the right man for the job and that she likes the "parameters" of his plan. But she added, "I need to know a lot more detail."
That skeptical take puts her somewhat at odds with her mentor, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a champion of Geithner who called his plan "very smart."