The petition is located here.
No blank check for Wall Street.
Congress is on the brink of making a one-sided deal to give George W. Bush a blank check to bail out his pals - offering nearly (or perhaps more than) a trillion taxpayer dollars to Wall Street to cover its bad debts. That works out to somewhere between $2000 and $5000 from every American family. So what do the taxpayers get in return?
Nothing. No new regulation or oversight to help avoid this kind of crisis in the future. No public interest givebacks to help people whose homes are in the hands of the banks. Perhaps most shockingly of all, the taxpayers get absolutely no share in the profits if and when these finance giants bounce back, even though we are now assuming a great deal of the risk.
This is worse than a bad deal - this isn't a deal at all. This is a blank check to some of the richest companies in the world.
There is some good news, though: Congress doesn't have to agreet to a blank check. Instead, it can choose to impose a few sensible conditions on the bailout to ensure that it will be used responsibly. Here are a few suggestions courtesy of Robert Reich1:
- If the taxpayers are shouldering the risk, the taxpayers should reap any eventual benefits. We accomplish this by giving the government an equity stake in every company we bail out proportionate to the amount we give them.
- If we're paying (more than) our fair share, the CEOs and executives should have to, too. All of the fat cats who got us into this mess should relinquish their stock options and salaries until they start showing us, their investors, that they can once again be profitable. Future salaries should be linked to profitability.
- No more campaign contributions from Wall Street executives and PACs. Taxpayer dollars should be used to get our nation out of a crisis. They cannot be used to fund giant, powerful lobby operations that will be used to strong arm Congress into making bad policy.
- Better regulations start right now. Wall Street can't expect to take thousands of dollars out of your paycheck without agreeing to increased transparency and more stringent oversight - the kind that might have helped avoid this mess to begin with.
- Bankruptcy judges get broader leeway to help homeowners. Why should we lose our homes so the CEOs can keep theirs?
If Wall Street doesn't like these conditions, then it is welcome to find private investors to help it out of this debacle. But if the American people are going to take this hit, then we must have a say in the terms of the deal - even if we don't have an army of high-paid lobbyists at our disposal like they do.
Congress must take swift and prudent action to avoid making a burgeoning crisis that much worse. Sign this petition today to make your voice heard to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Finance Chair Barney Frank, Senate Banking Chair Chris Dodd, and the de facto leaders of the two parties: Senators Barack Obama and John McCain. As elected officials, these people are all responsible to the taxpayers, not the Wall Street firms who line their campaign war chests. Please take action today.