Lori Montgomery & Paul Kane:
The proposed legislation would authorize Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. to initiate what is likely to become the biggest government bailout in U.S. history, allowing him to spend up to $700 billion to relieve faltering banks and other firms of bad assets backed by home mortgages, which are falling into foreclosure at record rates.
The plan would give Paulson broad latitude to purchase any assets from any firms at any price and to assemble a team of individuals and institutions to manage them. In wielding those powers, Paulson and others hope to contain a crisis that already has caused the failure or forced the rescue of a half-dozen major Wall Street firms and unnerved markets around the world.
- Draft Bailout bill (200K PDF)
- Letter to Paulson & Bernanke
- Larry Summers:
Congressional negotiators have now completed action on a $700bn authorisation for the bail-out of the financial sector. This step was as necessary as the need for it was regrettable. There are hugely important tactical issues regarding the deployment of these funds that the authorities will need to consider in the weeks and months ahead if the chance of containing the damage is to be maximised. I expect to return to these issues once the legislation is passed.
In the meantime, it is necessary to consider the impact of the bail-out and the conditions necessitating it on federal budget policy. The idea seems to have taken hold in recent days that because of the unfortunate need to bail out the financial sector, the nation will have to scale back its aspirations in other areas such as healthcare, energy, education and tax relief. This is more wrong than right. We have here the unusual case where economic analysis actually suggests that dismal conclusions are unwarranted and the events of the last weeks suggest that for the near term, government should do more, not less.
- Tom Wolfe’s latest is worth a read.
- My email to our Washington delegation.
My email to Wisconsin Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl. I also sent this to Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin:
Dear Senator Feingold:
I am writing to express my opposition to the proposed $700,000,000,000 toxic debt instrument bailout.
I believe it is wrong for us to continue the practice of spending beyond our means and simply passing more debt to our children and grandchildren. It is also wrong to stoke the fires of inflation.
If you believe these funds are necessary, then I suggest the following:
- Mandatory across the board spending cuts that pay for at least 50% of this initiative. They must be across the board.
- A slight change in tax policy so that every American pays some taxes. The annual base tax cost should follow spending changes. Choose a small number. Think of this as a “co-pay”. We have a real problem with the perception that federal (and state) dollars somehow fall out of the sky.
- You might be able to insert the beginning of a consumption tax. I would be in favor of such a tax on luxury vehicles, large boats and private aircraft over $1M.
- Restore the estate tax rate to early 1990′s levels.
- Gas tax. Add a provision to raise the gas tax annually. We need to do this for economic and national security reasons.
In other words, if necessary, support the initiative, but not on the backs of our children and grandchildren.
From Paulson to You | 11:41 a.m. In response to a question, Secretary Paulson sought to clear the air about who the bailout was supposed to help. “This is all about the American taxpayer,” he said. “That’s all we care about.” He continued:
Any banking operation in the United states that is doing business with the American public is important. The American public in dealing with the financial system doesn’t know who owns that bank.
Later, he added, “You ask me about taxpayers being on the hook? Guess what, they are already on the hook.”
Related: Public Markup of the Dodd bailout proposal.