Politics - POSTED: 2008/09/29 16:49
Key supporters of a Wall Street bailout package prodded lawmakers to approve the plan hours ahead of a difficult House vote on Monday, with President Bush saying it is needed to "keep the crisis in our financial system from spreading throughout our economy."
"Every member of Congress and every American should keep in mind that a vote for this bill is a vote to prevent economic damage to you and your community," said Bush, fully aware that congressional passage of the $700 billion compromise legislation is far from assured.
"With this strong and decisive legislation," he said, "we will help restart the flow of credit so American families can meet their daily needs and American businesses can make purchases, ship goods and meet their payrolls."
Two leading players in the negotiations also spoke early Monday, taking to television news shows to lobby for approval of a package deeply unpopular with a public angry that taxpayer money will save Wall Street firms from heavy risk-taking. Thousands of angry phone calls, e-mails and letters have poured into Capitol Hill from constituents.
But Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., said that failure to act would spread the contagion of frozen credit markets even further. "This is not just about Wall Street," said the Banking Committee chairman.
Sen. Judd Gregg, R-N.H., who represented fellow Republicans in the hard-fought 10 days of talks that culminated in a deal early Sunday morning, called it a "tourniquet" for the ailing financial industry and slow-moving economy.
Still, both men said the necessity of such massive government action is a sad day for the nation. Asked if the legislation, slated for a vote in the House later Monday and a Senate vote as early as Wednesday, would pass, Dodd said only: "We hope so."
These players were speaking not just to rank-and-file lawmakers to whom the spotlight now turns in this contentious, dramatic debate, but to U.S. and global markets which have displayed nervousness about Washington's determination to act.