By Kevin Zeese
Citizens from across the political spectrum are telling Congess, No to the Bailout. When we wrote our membership thousands responded. I’m urging people to respond again to keep the pressure building. We are having an impact but it is going to take an avalanche of citizen input to re-think the bailout. The decision Congress is considering could affect us for a generation or more. It could make progressive change financially impossible. Already, Senator Obama is saying the bailout will slow his plans for new programs to re-build the economy.
One reported quote from an anonymous congressional staffer about the effect of our e-mails, phone calls, faxes, etc. indicates that support for the bailout plan in its present form is rapidly declining due to citizen pressure. The Congressional newspaper Roll Call reports:
The Bush administration’s forceful lobbying effort failed Tuesday to win support from rank-and-file Republicans or Democrats for a $700 billion Wall Street bailout package, though GOP and Democratic leaders still planned to move a bipartisan bill by the end of the week…
The rank and file in both parties expressed deep concerns about anything resembling the $700 billion that the White House wants, and leaders struggled to keep their Members open-minded in the face of surging outside opposition from a diverse range of voices from former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) and the Club for Growth on the right to liberal bloggers on the left . . .
But both sides face heat internally, with liberals upset with what some see as a handout to Wall Street cronies and with conservatives who are appalled at the unprecedented intervention in the free market.
It is important to get more people writing (click here) and calling their legislators (202-224-3121). Please forward this article to everyone you know or send them to www.FreshAirCleanPolitics.net to take action. You can write/call again and update your representatives on your views as this drama is unfolding.
And, people are starting to ask very sensible questions that should slow down the process. One writer on economics and taxes that I have a great deal of respect for, David Kay Johnson of the NY Times is making some important points in a memo to the media:
In covering the proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street don’t repeat the failed lapdog practices that so damaged our reputations in the rush to war in Iraq and the adoption of the Patriot Act. Don’t assume that Congress must act instantly, as so many news stories state as if it was an immutable fact. Don’t assume there is a case just because officials say there is.
The coverage of the Paulson plan focuses on the edges, on the details. The focus should be on the premise. And be skeptical of what gullible Congressional leaders, most of them up before the voters in a few weeks, say after being given a closed-door meeting on supposed horrors…
Ask this question — are the credit markets really about to seize up?
If they are then lots of business owners should be eager to tell how their bank is calling their 90-day revolving loans, rejecting new loans and demanding more cash on deposit. I called businessmen I know yesterday and not one of them reported such problems. Indeed, Citibank offered yesterday to lend me tens of thousands of dollars on my signature at 2.99 percent, well below the nearly 5 percent inflation rate. That offer came after I said no last week to a 4.99 percent loan.
If the problem is toxic mortgages then how come they are still being offered all over the Internet? On the main page AOL generates for me there is an ad for a 1.9% loan (which means you pay that interest rate and the rest of the interest is added to your balance due.) Why oh why or why would taxpayers be bailing out banks that are continuing to sell these toxic loans? . . .
What steps are being taken to take back bonuses, fees and other compensation from the folks who got rich selling toxic mortgages and illiquid investments that Secretary Paulsen claims are threatening the whole system?
How will adding $700 billion to the national debt ease strains on the credit markets?
As of now we are, as a group, behaving just as we did the last two times the administration sought to rush through a hastily thought out, ill-conceived plan. Why in the world are we being so gullible and naive? Whatever happened to the core value of journalism — check it out?
And, Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz, an economics professor at Columbia University, is describing the plan as a raw deal for taxpayers. What’s needed most, Stiglitz argues, is to assist struggling homeowners. “We should begin with the core of the problem, the fact that millions of Americans were made loans beyond their ability to pay. We need to help them stay in their homes, including by converting the home mortgage deduction into a cashable tax credit and creating a homeowners’ Chapter 11, an expedited way to restructure their liabilities.” If these mortgages are fixed so the debts are paid, will that not make the banks solvent? It is time to build the economy from the base, rather than the top. Trickle down does not work — especially when it is debts that trickle down.
Please take action NOW. Three steps below.
1. Write Congress. We have a model letter but you can modify it to make the points you think are important. Click here.
2. Write the media. Use the information in the article above to send a letter to the editor and get the media to do their job — approach this massive, record setting bailout with skepticism. Click here.
3. Forward this article to everyone you know. It is going to take IMMEDIATE, CONCERTED citizen action to prevent this rush to judgment.
We can prevent this debacle. Elected officials from across the political spectrum are expressing doubt and even refusal to support the bailout. A push now by voters — with an election less than six weeks away can prevent this massive, mistaken expenditure.
-Kevin Zeese is Executive Director of the Campaign for Fresh Air and Clean Politics (www.FreshAirCleanPolitics.net) whose projects include Voters for Peace (www.VotersForPeace.US. He is also president of Common Sense for Drug Policy (www.csdp.org). He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.