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E-M:/ The Big Bank Bailout Bill will have a negative effect on funds for the Environment
- Subject: E-M:/ The Big Bank Bailout Bill will have a negative effect on funds for the Environment
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- Date: Thu, 2 Oct 2008 09:02:06 -0400
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Enviro-Mich message from "Michigan Beachwalker" <email@example.com>
The Wall Street "Big Bank Bailout Bill" recently passed by the Senate
will likely have an extremely adverse effect on federal spending for
environmental cleanup, alternative energy, research on climate change
and many other areas.
Sen. Bernie Sanders of VT posted a great article on this in the
Huffington post. Write your congress-person if you share these
Bailout Passes Senate; 9 Reasons That's Bad News for You
By Sen. Bernie Sanders, Huffington Post
Posted on October 1, 2008, Printed on October 2, 2008
This country faces many serious problems in the financial market, in
the stock market, in our economy. We must act, but we must act in a
way that improves the situation. We can do better than the legislation
now before Congress.
This bill does not effectively address the issue of what the taxpayers
of our country will actually own after they invest hundreds of
billions of dollars in toxic assets. This bill does not effectively
address the issue of oversight because the oversight board members
have all been hand picked by the Bush administration. This bill does
not effectively deal with the issue of foreclosures and addressing
that very serious issue, which is impacting millions of low- and
moderate-income Americans in the aggressive, effective way that we
should be. This bill does not effectively deal with the issue of
executive compensation and golden parachutes. Under this bill, the
CEOs and the Wall Street insiders will still, with a little bit of
imagination, continue to make out like bandits.
This bill does not deal at all with how we got into this crisis in the
first place and the need to undo the deregulatory fervor which created
trillions of dollars in complicated and unregulated financial
instruments such as credit default swaps and hedge funds. This bill
does not address the issue that has taken us to where we are today,
the concept of too big to fail. In fact, within the last several weeks
we have sat idly by and watched gigantic financial institutions like
the Bank of America swallow up other gigantic financial institutions
like Countrywide and Merrill Lynch. Well, who is going to bail out the
Bank of America if it begins to fail? There is not one word about the
issue of too big to fail in this legislation at a time when that
problem is in fact becoming even more serious.
This bill does not deal with the absurdity of having the fox guarding
the hen house. Maybe I'm the only person in America who thinks so, but
I have a hard time understanding why we are giving $700 billion to the
Secretary of the Treasury, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, who along
with other financial institutions, actually got us into this problem.
Now, maybe I'm the only person in America who thinks that's a little
bit weird, but that is what I think.
This bill does not address the major economic crisis we face: growing
unemployment, low wages, the need to create decent-paying jobs,
rebuilding our infrastructure and moving us to energy efficiency and
There is one issue that is even more profound and more basic than
everything else that I have mentioned, and that is if a bailout is
needed, if taxpayer money must be placed at risk, whose money should
it be? In other words, who should be paying for this bailout which has
been caused by the greed and recklessness of Wall Street operatives
who have made billions in recent years?
The American people are bitter. They are angry, and they are confused.
Over the last seven and a half year, since George W. Bush has been
President, 6 million Americans have slipped out of the middle class
and are in poverty, and today working families are lining up at
emergency food shelves in order to get the food they need to feed
their families. Since President Bush has been in office, median family
income for working-age families has declined by over $2,000. More than
seven million Americans have lost their health insurance. Over four
million have lost their pensions. Consumer debt has more than doubled.
And foreclosures are the highest on record. Meanwhile, the cost of
energy, food, health care, college and other basic necessities has
While the middle class has declined under President Bush's reckless
economic policies, the people on top have never had it so good. For
the first seven years of Bush's tenure, the wealthiest 400 individuals
in our country saw a $670 billion increase in their wealth, and at the
end of 2007 owned over $1.5 trillion in wealth. That is just 400
families, a $670 billion increase in wealth since Bush has been in
In our country today, we have the most unequal distribution of income
and wealth of any major country on earth, with the top 1 percent
earning more income than the bottom 50 percent and the top 1 percent
owning more wealth than the bottom 90 percent. We are living at a time
when we have seen a massive transfer of wealth from the middle class
to the very wealthiest people in this country, when, among others,
CEOs of Wall Street firms received unbelievable amounts in bonuses,
including $39 billion in bonuses in the year 2007 alone for just the
five major investment houses. We have seen the incredible greed of the
financial services industry manifested in the hundreds of millions of
dollars they have spent on campaign contributions and lobbyists in
order to deregulate their industry so that hedge funds and other
unregulated financial institutions could flourish. We have seen them
play with trillions and trillions dollars in esoteric financial
instruments, in unregulated industries which no more than a handful of
people even understand. We have seen the financial services industry
charge 30 percent interest rates on credit card loans and tack on
outrageous late fees and other costs to unsuspecting customers. We
have seen them engaged in despicable predatory lending practices,
taking advantage of the vulnerable and the uneducated. We have seen
them send out billions of deceptive solicitations to almost every
mailbox in America.
Most importantly, we have seen the financial services industry lure
people into mortgages they could not afford to pay, which is one of
the basic reasons why we are here tonight.
In the midst of all of this, we have a bailout package which says to
the middle class that you are being asked to place at risk $700
billion, which is $2,200 for every man, woman, and child in this
country. You're being asked to do that in order to undo the damage
caused by this excessive Wall Street greed. In other words, the
"Masters of the Universe," those brilliant Wall Street insiders who
have made more money than the average American can even dream of, have
brought our financial system to the brink of collapse. Now, as the
American and world financial systems teeter on the edge of a meltdown,
these multimillionaires are demanding that the middle class, which has
already suffered under Bush's disastrous economic policies, pick up
the pieces that they broke. That is wrong, and that is something that
I will not support.
If we are going to bail out Wall Street, it should be those people who
have caused the problem, those people who have benefited from Bush's
tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, those people who have
taken advantage of deregulation, those people are the people who
should pick up the tab, and not ordinary working people. I introduced
an amendment which gave the Senate a very clear choice. We can pay for
this bailout of Wall Street by asking people all across this country,
small businesses on Main Street, homeowners on Maple Street, elderly
couples on Oak Street, college students on Campus Avenue, working
families on Sunrise Lane, we can ask them to pay for this bailout.
That is one way we can go. Or, we can ask the people who have gained
the most from the spasm of greed, the people whose incomes have been
soaring under president bush, to pick up the tab.
I proposed to raise the tax rate on any individual earning $500,000 a
year or more or any family earning $1 million a year or more by 10
percent. That increase in the tax rate, from 35 percent to 45 percent,
would raise more than $300 billion in the next five years, almost half
the cost of the bailout. If what all the supporters of this
legislation say is correct, that the government will get back some of
its money when the market calms down and the government sells some of
the assets it has purchased, then $300 billion should be sufficient to
make sure that 99.7 percent of taxpayers do not have to pay one nickel
for this bailout.
Most of my constituents did not earn a $38 million bonus in 2005 or
make over $100 million in total compensation in three years, as did
Henry Paulson, the current secretary of the Treasury, and former CEO
of Goldman Sachs. Most of my constituents did not make $354 million in
total compensation over the past five years as did Richard Fuld of
Lehman Brothers. Most of my constituents did not cash out $60 million
in stock after a $29 billion bailout for Bear Stearns after that
failing company was bought out by J.P. Morgan Chase. Most of my
constituents did not get a $161 million severance package as E.
Stanley O'Neill, former CEO Merrill Lynch did.
Last week I placed on my Web site, www.sanders.senate.gov, a letter to
Secretary Paulson in support of my amendment. It said that it should
be those people best able to pay for this bailout, those people who
have made out like bandits in recent years, they should be asked to
pay for this bailout. It should not be the middle class. To my
amazement, some 48,000 people cosigned this petition, and the names
keep coming in. The message is very simple: "We had nothing to do with
causing this bailout. We are already under economic duress. Go to
those people who have made out like bandits. Go to those people who
have caused this crisis and ask them to pay for the bailout."
The time has come to assure our constituents in Vermont and all over
this country that we are listening and understand their anger and
their frustration. The time has come to say that we have the courage
to stand up to all of the powerful financial institution lobbyists who
are running amok all over the Capitol building, from the Chamber of
Commerce to the American Bankers Association, to the Business
Roundtable, all of these groups who make huge campaign contributions,
spend all kinds of money on lobbyists, they're here loud and clear.
They don't want to pay for this bailout, they want middle America to
pay for it.
(c) 2008 Huffington Post All rights reserved. Reposted by permission
of the copyright owner. PLEASE FORWARD
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