Water the Roots

Water the Roots

What do the people get from this bailout?

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With billions of taxpayer dollars being used to bail out banks and big corporations, the public must focus on the question, What do the people get from the investment of our tax money into these bailouts? They must be included in the benefits. Two-thirds of US economic activity is driven by consumers. When working Americans suffer, everyone suffers.

How did we get here? Borrowers were steered into predatory mortgage loans with grossly escalating interest rates that they could not afford. They still can’t. The pain of homeowners has now spread throughout the economy.

We must challenge plans that bail out the rich, put out the poor and put down the middle class. We can’t just bail out Wall Street and ignore Main Street. The bailout must be bottom up, not just top down. The poor–the unemployed poor, the working poor and the fixed-income poor–must benefit from the investment of their tax dollars. Any “solution” or remedy must be judged by how it affects “the least of these.”

The oversight committees and the overseers must come off the payroll of Wall Street. They cannot eat from the same trough and retain any credibility as regulators. If the owners pay the referees and umpires, the integrity of the game will be corrupted, leaving all outcomes suspect.

We must freeze multimillion-dollar golden parachute retirement payouts to fired executives who “led” their companies down a failed road. There must be a cap on executive pay and compensation.

We must freeze foreclosures and restructure and modify the loans; we must protect the home equity of people defrauded and victimized by the subprime lending schemes.

Urban policy must be included in the bailout: we must reinvest in America and put Americans back to work. If billions of taxpayer dollars can go to bail out the banks, funds must also go to build new infrastructure, schools and roads as well as to incentives to stop plant closures. Investment must be made to provide healthcare for all Americans. In this way, we not only do the right thing; we do the smart thing to create lasting economic growth.

In these economic times, we must invest in job creation–green jobs and public works jobs. We must water and feed the roots. Confidence cannot be restored from the top. When big banks lend to businesses while consumers remain doubtful and afraid to spend, businesses can’t sell and businesses can’t repay.

OTHER CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE FORUM

Doug Henwood
William Greider
Nomi Prins
Ralph Nader
Thea M. Lee
Robert Pollin
Thomas Ferguson and Robert Johnson
James K. Galbraith and William K. Black

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