Here’s a letter I received that I feel the need to share:

Dear Jali,

The Bush administration is finally paying attention to the disastrous state of our economy. They didn’t act as many of us lost jobs, health insurance, and even our homes–with historic levels of middle-class Black wealth being devastated in the process.1 Now that Wall Street is wobbling, they’re ready to come to the rescue, at our expense–to the tune of $700 billion.2

Bold steps are clearly needed, but the Bush plan is plain wrong:

  1. It prioritizes protecting the corporations that got us into this mess, their executives and shareholders–while doing nothing to protect everyday Americans who’ve been overwhelmed with debt, which is the root of the problem.
     
  2. It provides no accountability–giving the Treasury Secretary unlimited power to spend our money with no oversight from Congress.
     
  3. There’s a good chance it won’t actually work. And when it doesn’t, they’ll be back looking for more money from taxpayers.

There are alternatives to Bush’s plan, but he’s pushing it through like it’s the only choice. Democrats control Congress, which means they, not the Bush administration, can set the terms for this bailout. At this point, stopping the plan might come down to the Senate. Your senators need to know that we’re paying attention, that we’re not buying Bush’s scare tactics, and that they shouldn’t either.

Senators are meeting today trying to decide what to do. Can you call Senators Chambliss and Isakson today?

     Senator Saxby Chambliss
     202-224-3521

     Senator Johnny Isakson
     202-224-3643

Here’s a brief script you can use (or make up your own):

“Congress needs to slow down and think about what it’s doing before it gives huge amounts of taxpayer money to Wall Street, with no strings attached. Any economic bailout needs to help struggling homeowners. It can’t be on the backs of those who can least afford it. And it must include accountability for the administration and the industry. Don’t let the Bush administration panic you into supporting another huge mistake.”

Then, please let us know you called by clicking here:

http://colorofchange.org/bailout_calls/?id=1784-239689

There are several ways to get the economy back on track that will do a better job of stabilizing the economy over the long-haul and go further in helping those hit the hardest.

A plan that makes common and economic sense would start by giving people on the verge of losing everything new terms for servicing their debts. Such an approach would spawn a recovery for everyone, including the banking sector, from the bottom up.3 Two industry and policy experts have put this idea forward and some politicians have mentioned the concept. But it hasn’t gained traction because the banks have controlled the conversation from the start. Here’s Thomas Ferguson & Robert Johnson, former Chief Economist of the Senate Banking Committee. They say a first step would be

reviving something like the Home Owners Loan Corporation that worked so well in the New Deal. That bought mortgages from people who were in danger of losing their houses and converted them into obligations that they could afford to repay. This sort of bailout has the wonderful property of directing public money to the public, rather than Wall Street. But it would still bail out Wall Street, since reviving housing and stopping mortgage defaults feeds directly through to mortgage bonds values and derivatives based on them.

Instead, Bush wants taxpayers to give his administration a $700 billion check with no strings attached, which they’ll then hand over to the Wall Street firms that got us into this mess in the first place and with no congressional or court oversight. That amounts to $2,000 for every single American.4

The plan is a failure on so many levels. It does nothing for families struggling to keep their homes. Tax payers get zero shares of the firms we’re bailing out, meaning when these companies eventually do turn a profit we get nothing. And the firms we’re bailing out can continue to pay their executives multimillion-dollar salaries funded by us. MoveOn called it a “pure giveaway of epic proportions” and they’re right.

Even some Republicans can see that the plan makes no sense. Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) asked, “Just how long can the poor beleaguered taxpayer be expected to bear all the losses and bear all the risk?”6 Rep. Steve LaTourette (R-Ohio) said, “I’m getting a lot of calls from my district, with people saying, why are you bailing out the big guys and not us?”7

There are many in Congress who want to do the right thing, but they need to know the public has their back. Please call your senators at the numbers above.

Then, please let us know you called by clicking here:

http://colorofchange.org/bailout_calls/?id=1784-239689

Thanks and Peace,

— James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, Andre, Kai, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team

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1 Comment

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  1. The Color of Change folks are on top of everything. I usually do whatever they ask of me because it is almost invariably the best course for all Americans at a time when our government has let us down and destroyed our country worse than any enemy ever has.

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