The Administration has put a corporate-led bailout on the table with the threat that Congress pass it as is or face aworldwide economic catastrophe. We’ve seen this kind of shock and awe, do it our way or else, fear mongering before. Yes, action is needed, but that action must be smart, just and effective. Action must ensure that this taxpayer-funded rescue doesn’t reward the very people on Wall Street who created this mess whileshafting the needs of Main Street. The President, the Federal Reserve, SEC and Congressional committees responsible for regulation and oversight failed to act in the public or national interest and allowed this economic meltdown to reach crisis proportions. It’s ironic that the same people and firms that preachedfree-market capitalism are the ones now demanding a speedy taxpayerbailout.
This bailout should be seized as an opportunity to start addressing thereal economic crisis–the one on Main Street–where the struggle tomake ends meet is increasingly more dire in an economy marked by joblosses, crumbling infrastructure, the lowest levels of personal savingssince the 1920s, Gilded Age inequality and the highest level of foreclosed homes since the Great Depression.
Attention must be paid to restoring people’s opportunities and hope andaddressing America’s investment deficit, as Harold Meyerson laid out ina recent Washington Post op-ed:
Someone needs to invest in the United States of America. For the past decade and, in a broader sense, for the entire duration of the Reaganera, both government and Wall Street have opted not to.
So where is the commitment to reinvesting in America and its people? While billions or even trillions of taxpayer dollars are being proposedfor the benefit of banks and big corporations, we also need to ensureaccountability and oversight and protect taxpayers from being ripped offin a rushed, blank-check, no-strings-attached Wall Street bailout.
Economist Robert Kuttner offers some strong, common sense demands in apost today, and also describes Treasury Secretary Paulson as “playing this more as the investment banker that he used to be, than as a steward ofthe public interest.” He notes that House Financial Services ChairmanRep. Barney Frank articulated a good start to reworking Paulson’s bailout: