Saturday, September 27, 2008

A bailout for us all

A Call for Common Sense

Every man, woman, and child in America is now being told
to ante up $2,000 - an estimated $700 billion in all -
to bail out Wall Street's recklessness, or the very
people who created this crisis are telling us that they
will bring down our entire economy.

The Treasury Department's proposal that the Secretary be
given essentially unlimited authority to spend $700
billion to bail out any financial institution across the
world is irresponsible and unacceptable.

We urge the Congress to insist on some basic conditions
for any bailout.

1. Public Oversight. This kind of power can never be
centralized in a single individual - much less one who
did not even stand for election. Any funds must be
controlled by an independent entity, with consumers and
workers given seats on its board. Congress should be
empowered to name independent monitors and to approve
all board members.

2. Protect the Taxpayer. The Treasury bill would have
taxpayers buying paper that nobody else wants at prices
far above its current value. If a firm wants to auction
off its toxic paper to the US Government, taxpayers
should get equity in that firm equal to any amount paid
in excess of the paper's value. This will deter
profitable firms from using the government as a dumpster
for their toxic paper. And it will insure that if the
bailout works and the firms become profitable,
taxpayers, not simply bankers, benefit from the upside.

3. Curb the casino. This crisis was caused because
sensible regulations of the banking system that worked
for dozens of years were dismantled or went unenforced.
No bailout can go forward without requiring the
necessary regulation to insure this does not happen
again. Any institution, which receives assistance,
should agree to come under a microscope going forward in
terms of disclosure requirements, and it should have
stringent capital requirement imposed upon it.

4. Invest in the real economy. Ending the bankers strike
is not sufficient enough to avoid the recession into
which we have been driven. Major public investment in
new energy and conservation, rebuilding schools and
infrastructure, extending unemployment and food stamps,
helping states avoid crippling cuts in police and health
services - is vital to get the real economy moving and
put people back to work. No bailout should proceed
without being linked to support for a major public
investment plan to get the economy going.

5. Hold CEOs and Boards of Directors Accountable. Wall
Street CEOs shouldn't be pocketing millions while
taxpayers are forced to bail them out. Any firm that
applies for relief must agree to cancel all stock option
programs and CEOs should have stringent limits placed on
their compensation until the Company has repaid all
taxpayer assistance.

6. Aid the victims, not just the predators. Both bankers
and home owners made foolish bets that home prices would
keep rising. Many homeowners, however, were misled by
predatory lenders into taking mortgages that they didn't
understand and couldn't afford. It would be simply
obscene to help the predators and not those that they
preyed upon. No bail out of the banks should take place
without measures to help people in trouble stay in their
homes. Explicit provisions should ensure use of the full
array of financial and legal tools available to the
government to stop foreclosures and restructure home
mortgage loans for ordinary Americans, including
amending the bankruptcy code to allow judges to modify
mortgages. Where workouts are not feasible, people
should be allowed to stay in their homes as renters.

-- Robert Borosage, co-director, Campaign for America's
-- John Sweeney, president, AFL-CIO
-- Andy Stern, president, Service Employees
International Union (SEIU)
-- Gerald McEntee, president, Am. Fed. of State, County
and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
-- Randi Weingarten, president, American Federation of
Teachers (AFT)
-- Larry Cohen, president, Communications Workers of
America (CWA)
-- Dennis Van Roekel, president, National Education
Association (NEA)
-- Leo Gerard, president, United Steelworkers (USW)
-- Maude Hurd, national president, ACORN
-- Nan Aron, president, Alliance for Justice
-- Amy Issacs, national director, Americans for
Democratic Action
-- Kevin Zeese, executive director, Campaign for Fresh
Air & Clean Politics
-- John Podesta, president, Center for American Progress
Action Fund
-- Deepak Bhargava, president, Center for Community
-- Deborah Weinstein, executive director, Coalition for
Human Needs
-- Donald Mathis, president, Community Action
-- Jane Hamsher,
-- James D. Weill, president, Food Research & Action
Center (FRAC)
-- Brent Blackwelder, president, Friends of the Earth
-- John Cavanagh, director, Institute for Policy Studies
-- Sarita Gupta, executive director, Jobs with Justice
-- Wade Henderson, president, Leadership Conference on
Civil Rights
-- Carissa Picard, esq., president, Military Spouses for
-- Sally Greenberg, executive director, National
Consumers League
-- Christine L. Owens, executive director, National
Employment Law Project
-- Gary Bass, executive director, OMB Watch
-- Adam Lioz, program director, Progressive Future
-- Joanne Carter, executive director, RESULTS
-- William McNary, president, USAction
-- Paula Brantner, executive director, Workplace
-- Dan Cantor, executive director, Working Families
-- Mark Lotwis, executive director, 21st Century

The Campaign for America's Future (CAF) is a center of
progressive strategy, organizing and issue campaigns.
CAF anchors a progressive leadership network, enlisting
leaders at the national, state and local levels to build
a more just and democratic society. The Campaign is
leading the fight about America's priorities - against
privatization of Social Security, for investment in
energy independence, good jobs and a sustainable
economy, for affordable health care and more.

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