Earth to Congress: No Bailout!

A recent LA Times/Bloomberg poll shows that 55 percent of the American people do not support a taxpayer bailout of the financial sector of the economy, while only 31 percent think it is the government’s responsibility to provide these funds to the struggling firms. The first plan presented, drawn up by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the Bush administration, has drawn fire from many legislators and political action groups. The Paulson plan calls for $700 billion dollars to be spent to purchase the assets that the mortgage companies are unable to sell, a transfer of more authority over the markets to the Federal Reserve, and no oversight or judicial review. That would be a hard pill to swallow for any legislation, let alone a taxpayer bailout of financial corporations.

Alternatives to the plan under development since June were the biggest topic on Capitol Hill yesterday as legislators fought to include things like equity stakes in the struggling corporations, offering the money strictly as a loan, pay restrictions for executives, and providing assistance to distressed homeowners as they worked to finalize details on a bi-partisan plan. Interestingly, the only thing not being thoroughly considered is that any bailout plan conceived be used as a last resort, rather than the first option. With over half of the population against a bailout, why is no one talking about letting the free market forces work?

While Congress works toward a “bipartisan solution,” the people from all over the political spectrum are organizing into groups against a bailout. The National Taxpayers’ Union, MoveOn.org, True Majority, Downsize DC, Credo, and FreedomWorks and many others have all begun petitions and movements against the bailout. Political action committees and candidates for office have also equipped concerned citizens with the tools to let Congress know what they think about the pending legislation.

Even with all of the fervor among the American people, Congress still worked toward crafting legislation yesterday, striking an agreement in principle that serves both Democrats and Republicans, yet abandons the beliefs of a majority of citizens. I stand as someone who is firmly against using taxpayer money to socialize the losses when the taxpayers did not directly benefit from the profitable times.

Should the petitions and outrage among the people stop or stall the bailout plan, Congress has a plan to add it to the Continuing Resolution, legislation that authorizes the spending necessary to perform the functions of the Federal Government. Since voting against a bill that combines the bailout with the legislation that funds the Federal Government would result in a shutdown of the government, this plan appeals to Congressional leaders. This action also gives Congress a pass on the obligation that spending legislation originate in the House, as the Continuing Resolution has already passed the House. Now, the Senate could simply take the Continuing Resolution, add language authorizing the bailout, send it back to the House for an up-or-down vote and push it along to President Bush to sign.

It appears that our elected representatives seem to have already decided that the bailout will happen, regardless of the will of the people. How excited are you to be paying just over $2000 each to cover someone else’s mistakes?


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