Wednesday, October 01, 2008

And now - A word from my foreign corrospondent....

Why Congress should not vote for the $700B Bailout as Amended

I want to express my frustration over this process of attempting to pass the $700B Bailout legislation. Congress demonstrated none of the integrity of past legislative bodies when a serious subject required quick but thoughtful action for the benefit of all. Instead we get childish voting and self serving additions to the legislation that just continue the pattern of putting friends before the country.

As I understand it the legislation to help financial institutions make their daily commitments and allow some borrowers to keep houses where they can’t make the payments was presented for a vote on Monday. It included what I considered reasonable safeguards including reduced payouts for CEOs for these companies, some conditions on the funds provided and the retention of some interest in the company in exchange for the loan.
These are all sound business practices that any good lending institution should insist on if they are loaning money to a floundering company. This is not a question of whether the money should be loaned – I think we need to do this to prevent a financial disaster bigger than the one we already have – but how should it be loaned.

Then on Tuesday the legislation went to a vote in the House and Senate and was defeated. The only reason I have heard for this defeat is that the senators and congressmen/women felt they had to express the frustration they felt from their constituents. This is a childish response to some heat that is well deserved. The financial markets responded in a predictably fearful way and fell more in one day than at any other day in their history.

The proposal now is to reintroduce the legislation with some addenda. The bill will include tax breaks for businesses and guarantees by the government for depositors of funds from $101,000 to $250,000. How is this going to help these financial institutions? These addenda are just sweets for the rich so they won’t be so mad. This again is a childish response to deserved criticism.

It seemed that in past times when a crisis befell the American people everyone pitched in, the Congress put aside their differences and worked to solve the problem for the benefit of all. Today’s lack of integrity and unwillingness to put the country first is just one more shameful act of greed in an extravaganza of greed that has preceded it.

And where is our President in all of this? He has done nothing to reassure us that things will be better, that he is working to create a solution. He appears to be asleep at the wheel - again. This is a sad day for regular Americans – or is it just another sad day in a long line of sad days?

Send an email to your congressman/woman and senator encouraging them to go back to the drawing board and do the right thing. Tell them they must do this, not just for themselves and for their friends, but for the country. Tell them they have an obligation to the American people they need to fulfill. Also tell them you expect a higher standard of conduct from our national representatives and that you will do your homework when election time comes around. Tell them not to allow this shame to continue and to show the American people that our governing body does care about everyone. Tell them to get it right this time.

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