Bennett faces heat for supporting bank bailouts

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OREM -- Sen. Bob Bennett has been under fire for his support of bailouts for the banking industry.

Speaking at Utah Valley University's annual democracy program, Bennett explained why he voted to bail out the banking industry, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.

Bennett said if Congress had not approved billions in Troubled Assets Relief Program (TARP) funds to keep banks afloat during the financial crisis, the results would have been a "meltdown" of the country's markets.

His remarks came after an audience member accused Bennett of being "constitutionally incompetent."

Bennett said he also voted to use the funds as sparingly as possible, voting against giving bailout money to the nation's automakers.

Other candidates seeking Bennett's Senate seat have criticized his support of TARP, saying Congress overstepped its office when creating and implementing it.

Meanwhile, Sen. Orrin Hatch is warning constituents not to be too hasty when deciding whether or not to re-elect Bennett in the fall.

Hatch said Bennett's seniority in Congress is a boon to the state and makes it easier for him to be an advocate for Utah.

Hatch also said after the November elections Bennett could become the ranking member or chairman of the powerful Senate Banking Committee.

Bennett is currently facing seven challengers from within his own party.

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