What Will The Largest Government Bailout Of Private Industry In US History Look Like?

A bailout of some kind is coming, but no one seems to know what it will look like and who it will help. The Wall Street Journal says that Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd of Connecticut has some ideas that might not go over too well with the Treasury Department.

The WSJ says that Dodd wants the government to receive shares in the firms that are dumping their questionable debt on taxpayers, as well as a provision to help distressed homeowners, whereas the White House is calling for a “clean” bailout that would allow the Treasury to grant “nearly unfettered powers” to its Secretary. The New York Times says that the Bush plan, “could prove to be the largest government bailout of private industry in the nation’s history.”

CNN reports that most of the regular people that they’ve talked to are extraordinarily pissed about the bailout and think that, while ignoring the problem may not be practically possible, that Wall Street doesn’t deserve any help:

“Companies, like individuals, should be held responsible for their decisions,” wrote Jorge from El Paso, Texas. “This buyout does not address the other problems in the pipeline such as personal credit default and market slowdowns in most industries. No new jobs will be created.”

“It is time for the financial institutions of this country to be called to the mat. We should be expecting and demanding responsible and ethical business practice, not rewarding it at the expense of taxpayers.”

And John from Springfield, Va., said the government action actually hurts the people it is intended to help.

“The government does not have $700 billion dollars. WE have $700 billion, and it is being taken from us. If this is passed then the next administration and the next will be extracting this one from the people who are supposedly being protected by this bailout.”

Other consumers vowed to get rid of any politician that supported a bailout:

“I will be watching to see which of our representatives vote for this bailout,” said R. Kidd in Troy, N.C. “Let the American people see how many we can fire come election time.”

And many readers, including Danny from Texas said we should stop typing and start dialing the lawmakers who are prepared to give the OK to the bailout.

“Call your Congressman. Stop blogging, posting comments, and call your congressman. This is the patriotic thing to do. Let them hear your opinion, show them this is still America and that you will not stand for this!!”

President Bush took today as an opportunity to ask Congress not to tack on any unnecessary nonsense to the bailout, and politely asked them to hurry:

Americans are watching to see if Democrats and Republicans, the Congress and the White House, can come together to solve this problem with the urgency it warrants. Indeed, the whole world is watching to see if we can act quickly to shore up our markets and prevent damage to our capital markets, businesses, our housing sector, and retirement accounts.

Failure to act would have broad consequences far beyond Wall Street. It would threaten small business owners and homeowners on Main Street.

Everyone recognizes that it’s not easy to write a bill of this magnitude in a timely manner, and all those who have worked so hard over the weekend and continue this morning deserve the thanks and appreciation of every American. Working together, I am confident we can enact the legislation necessary to prevent lasting damage to our economy and meet the unique challenge facing us today.

President Bush’s Statement [NYT]
Dodd’s Bailout Draft Could Give Companies’ Shares to Government [WSJ]
Mad as hell – taxpayers lash out [CNN]
(AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

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