Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Call for Common Sense

Below are some talking points on where to go from here on the bailout, "A Call for Common Sense" made by representatives from several different groups.


Every man, woman, and child in America is now being told to ante up $2000 – 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.

John Sweeney, President, AFL-CIO
Andy Stern, President, Service Employees International Union (SEIU)
Gerald McEntee, President, American Federation 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
Bob Borosage, Co-Director, Campaign for America’s Future
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 Change
Deborah Weinstein, Executive Director, Coalition for Human Needs
Donald Mathis, President, Community Action Partnership
Jane Hamsher, firedoglake.com
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 Change
Sally Greenberg, Executive Director, National Consumers League
Christine L. Owens, Executive Director, National Employment Law Project
Gary Bass, Executive Director, OMB Watch
Joanne Carter, Executive Director, RESULTS
William McNary, President, USAction
Paula Brantner, Executive Director, Workplace Fairness
Dan Cantor, Executive Director, Working Families Party
Mark Lotwis, Executive Director, 21st Centu

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