A consumer advocacy group founded by Ralph Nader is praising Rep. Bill Orton, D-Utah, for his House Banking Committee votes to pay upfront for salvaging savings and loans, rather than borrowing money to pay the costs over the long run.

"Freshman Congressman Orton is a breath of fresh air on the House Banking Committee. He truly has heard the voices of the voters," said Michael Waldman, executive director of the Public Citizen Congress Watch."The amendment Orton supported will save taxpayers $120 billion, according to the Banking Committee. As currently funded, the S&L bailout is the biggest consumer ripoff of our time."

However, the bill containing the amendment praised by Nader's group died on a 19-31 vote - with Orton among the minority voting for it.

Because of the Democratic-backed, pay-as-you-go amendment and others, all committee Republicans refused to voted for the bill to give the Resolution Trust Corp. more money to shut down failing S&Ls - whose continued operations merely increase losses.

When committee Democrats saw no Republicans would vote for the bill, a third of them also refused to do so because they did not want Democrats to be blamed for the continued S&L bailout.

The committee is currently trying to rework compromises and pass a bill to prevent the needed S&L bail-out from growing because the RTC cannot afford to close down failing thrifts.

Despite such problems, Waldman praised Democrats including Orton for insisting on a pay-as-you-go system for bailouts. He said Stanford University economists estimate that of the total $1.369 trillion bailout to be needed, $913 billion would be in interest payments if a pay-as-you-go system is not used.

Sherry Ettleson with Congress Watch said, "Congressman Orton is protecting taxpayers by refusing to hide behind budgetary gimmickry."