Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.
No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:
"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.
"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.
"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.
"Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."
Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.
The problem is, nobody truly knows what this "collapse" is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn't know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can't figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone.
And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!
Falling for whom? NOTHING in this "bailout" package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.
Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What's this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?
It has everything to do with it. This so-called "collapse" was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people's home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it's because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn't afford. Here's the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills. Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage "crisis" may never have happened.
This bailout's mission is to protect the obscene amount of wealth that has been accumulated in the last eight years. It's to protect the top shareholders who own and control corporate America. It's to make sure their yachts and mansions and "way of life" go uninterrupted while the rest of America suffers and struggles to pay the bills. Let the rich suffer for once. Let them pay for the bailout. We are spending 400 million dollars a day on the war in Iraq. Let them end the war immediately and save us all another half-trillion dollars!
I have to stop writing this and you have to stop reading it. They are staging a financial coup this morning in our country. They are hoping Congress will act fast before they stop to think, before we have a chance to stop them ourselves. So stop reading this and do something -- NOW! Here's what you can do immediately:
1. Call or e-mail Senator Obama. Tell him he does not need to be sitting there trying to help prop up Bush and Cheney and the mess they've made. Tell him we know he has the smarts to slow this thing down and figure out what's the best route to take. Tell him the rich have to pay for whatever help is offered. Use the leverage we have now to insist on a moratorium on home foreclosures, to insist on a move to universal health coverage, and tell him that we the people need to be in charge of the economic decisions that affect our lives, not the barons of Wall Street.
2. Take to the streets. Participate in one of the hundreds of quickly-called demonstrations that are taking place all over the country (especially those near Wall Street and DC).
3. Call your Representative in Congress and your Senators. (click here to find their phone numbers). Tell them what you told Senator Obama.
When you screw up in life, there is hell to pay. Each and every one of you reading this knows that basic lesson and has paid the consequences of your actions at some point. In this great democracy, we cannot let there be one set of rules for the vast majority of hard-working citizens, and another set of rules for the elite, who, when they screw up, are handed one more gift on a silver platter. No more! Not again!
P.S. Having read further the details of this bailout bill, you need to know you are being lied to. They talk about how they will prevent golden parachutes. It says NOTHING about what these executives and fat cats will make in SALARY. According to Rep. Brad Sherman of California, these top managers will continue to receive million-dollar-a-month paychecks under this new bill. There is no direct ownership given to the American people for the money being handed over. Foreign banks and investors will be allowed to receive billion-dollar handouts. A large chunk of this $700 billion is going to be given directly to Chinese and Middle Eastern banks. There is NO guarantee of ever seeing that money again.
P.P.S. From talking to people I know in DC, they say the reason so many Dems are behind this is because Wall Street this weekend put a gun to their heads and said either turn over the $700 billion or the first thing we'll start blowing up are the pension funds and 401(k)s of your middle class constituents. The Dems are scared they may make good on their threat. But this is not the time to back down or act like the typical Democrat we have witnessed for the last eight years. The Dems handed a stolen election over to Bush. The Dems gave Bush the votes he needed to invade a sovereign country. Once they took over Congress in 2007, they refused to pull the plug on the war. And now they have been cowered into being accomplices in the crime of the century. You have to call them now and say "NO!" If we let them do this, just imagine how hard it will be to get anything good done when President Obama is in the White House. THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM. CALL CONGRESS NOW.
President Rafael Correa was expected to cement his Leftist rule for the next decade as Ecuadorians voted on Sunday on a new constitution that will dramatically expand his powers.
The rewritten constitution gives the 45-year-old US-educated economist, a key ally of socialist President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, more power to regulate the economy and increase spending on health and education.
"Ecuador needs a profound, radical and quick change, a citizens' revolution", said Mr Correa, insisting the new constitution is the only way to avoid further civil strife, political instability and inequality in a country that has had five presidents in the last decade, with none completing a full term in office.
The new constitution ensures that those who work in the home are eligible for social security, grants free healthcare to the elderly, gives fathers the right to paternity leave, ends military conscription, lowers the voting age to 16 and allows soldiers and police the right to vote for the first time.
"Now we are going to have a system that favours the poor, instead of stacking the cards against us and giving all the privileges to the rich," said student Amalia Torres, 23, as she queued to vote in the capital Quito.
However, President Correa has challenged the power of the Catholic Church by granting same-sex unions the same rights as heterosexual marriages and loosening laws on abortion. Senior clergy have cautioned against the reforms, prompting the government to demand that the Catholic Church stop interfering in politics.
The opposition insists that Mr Correa plans to suppress free speech and perpetuate himself in power.
The changes will radically strengthen the powers of the presidency, allowing Mr Correa to appoint senior members of the judiciary, supplant the central bank, expropriate assets "in the national interest" and stand for re-election, something previously banned, meaning he could govern until 2017.
"What is in play here is that presidential powers will be much wider," said analyst Jorge Leon Trujillo from Quito. "With the excuse of establishing order and stability, the constitution is giving great power to the Executive."
Polls suggest Ecuadorians are not overly alarmed by opposition accusations, however, and believe the new constitution will mark a positive step in one of the most politically unstable nations in the region. Surveys suggested that the changes will be approved by between 55 and 60 percent of voters. A simple majority is all that is needed to turn the new constitution into law.
Mr Correa is following a path pioneered by Mr Chavez, who introduced a new constitution in 1999. Another ally, President Evo Morales of Bolivia, is also seeking to so the same, although violence, widespread protests and fears of separatism are sabotaging his efforts to get radical reforms approved.
Click the following links to view documents:
Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
Summary of Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
Section-by-Section of Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008
From 3 pages - to 110 pages...
Published: September 20, 2008
LEGISLATIVE PROPOSAL FOR TREASURY AUTHORITY
TO PURCHASE MORTGAGE-RELATED ASSETS
Section 1. Short Title.
This Act may be cited as ____________________.
Sec. 2. Purchases of Mortgage-Related Assets.
(a) Authority to Purchase.--The Secretary is authorized to purchase, and to make and fund commitments to purchase, on such terms and conditions as determined by the Secretary, mortgage-related assets from any financial institution having its headquarters in the United States.
(b) Necessary Actions.--The Secretary is authorized to take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act, including, without limitation:
(1) appointing such employees as may be required to carry out the authorities in this Act and defining their duties;
(2) entering into contracts, including contracts for services authorized by section 3109 of title 5, United States Code, without regard to any other provision of law regarding public contracts;
(3) designating financial institutions as financial agents of the Government, and they shall perform all such reasonable duties related to this Act as financial agents of the Government as may be required of them;
(4) establishing vehicles that are authorized, subject to supervision by the Secretary, to purchase mortgage-related assets and issue obligations; and
(5) issuing such regulations and other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to define terms or carry out the authorities of this Act.
Sec. 3. Considerations.
In exercising the authorities granted in this Act, the Secretary shall take into consideration means for--
(1) providing stability or preventing disruption to the financial markets or banking system; and
(2) protecting the taxpayer.
Sec. 4. Reports to Congress.
Within three months of the first exercise of the authority granted in section 2(a), and semiannually thereafter, the Secretary shall report to the Committees on the Budget, Financial Services, and Ways and Means of the House of Representatives and the Committees on the Budget, Finance, and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs of the Senate with respect to the authorities exercised under this Act and the considerations required by section 3.
Sec. 5. Rights; Management; Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.
(a) Exercise of Rights.--The Secretary may, at any time, exercise any rights received in connection with mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act.
(b) Management of Mortgage-Related Assets.--The Secretary shall have authority to manage mortgage-related assets purchased under this Act, including revenues and portfolio risks therefrom.
(c) Sale of Mortgage-Related Assets.--The Secretary may, at any time, upon terms and conditions and at prices determined by the Secretary, sell, or enter into securities loans, repurchase transactions or other financial transactions in regard to, any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act.
(d) Application of Sunset to Mortgage-Related Assets.--The authority of the Secretary to hold any mortgage-related asset purchased under this Act before the termination date in section 9, or to purchase or fund the purchase of a mortgage-related asset under a commitment entered into before the termination date in section 9, is not subject to the provisions of section 9.
Sec. 6. Maximum Amount of Authorized Purchases.
The Secretary’s authority to purchase mortgage-related assets under this Act shall be limited to $700,000,000,000 outstanding at any one time
Sec. 7. Funding.
For the purpose of the authorities granted in this Act, and for the costs of administering those authorities, the Secretary may use the proceeds of the sale of any securities issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, and the purposes for which securities may be issued under chapter 31 of title 31, United States Code, are extended to include actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses. Any funds expended for actions authorized by this Act, including the payment of administrative expenses, shall be deemed appropriated at the time of such expenditure.
Sec. 8. Review.
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.
Sec. 9. Termination of Authority.
The authorities under this Act, with the exception of authorities granted in sections 2(b)(5), 5 and 7, shall terminate two years from the date of enactment of this Act.
Sec. 10. Increase in Statutory Limit on the Public Debt.
Subsection (b) of section 3101 of title 31, United States Code, is amended by striking out the dollar limitation contained in such subsection and inserting in lieu thereof $11,315,000,000,000.
Sec. 11. Credit Reform.
The costs of purchases of mortgage-related assets made under section 2(a) of this Act shall be determined as provided under the Federal Credit Reform Act of 1990, as applicable.
Sec. 12. Definitions.
For purposes of this section, the following definitions shall apply:
(1) Mortgage-Related Assets.--The term “mortgage-related assets” means residential or commercial mortgages and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before September 17, 2008.
(2) Secretary.--The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of the Treasury.
(3) United States.--The term “United States” means the States, territories, and possessions of the United States and the District of Columbia.
JUAN GONZALEZ: The Bush administration is intensifying its pressure on Congress to quickly approve a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, despite warnings from economists and some governmental officials that the bailout could worsen the financial crisis.
Last night, President Bush held a prime-time address to warn the nation’s entire economy is in danger if the bailout is not approved as soon as possible.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: The government’s top economic experts warn that without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic, and a distressing scenario would unfold. More banks could fail, including some in your community. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically. And if you own a business or a farm, you would find it harder and more expensive to get credit. More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs. Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession. Fellow citizens, we must not let this happen.
JUAN GONZALEZ: [Wednesday] night’s address was the first time in his presidency that Bush delivered a prime-time speech devoted exclusively to the economy. His dire scenario about the state of the economy stood in stark contrast to his comments at his last press conference two months ago.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: I think the system basically is sound. I truly do. And I understand there’s a lot of nervousness, and—but the economy is growing, productivity is high, trade’s up. People are working. It’s not as good as we would like, but—and to the extent that we find weakness, we’ll move. That’s one thing about this administration: we’re not afraid to making tough decisions.
AMY GOODMAN: Today, the President is holding an emergency summit at the White House with both John McCain and Barack Obama, as well as top leaders for Congress. The Wall Street Journal reports Democratic leaders are hoping to nail down details of the bailout measure early today.
On Wednesday, McCain said he would suspend his campaign to deal with the financial crisis. He called on Obama to postpone their debate Friday night, saying he would only attend if Congress approves a bailout package before then. Obama said the debate in Oxford, Mississippi at Ole Miss should go on as planned.
We’re joined on the phone right now by a presidential candidate who was not invited to Friday’s debate, Independent candidate Ralph Nader. The longtime consumer advocate has been a vocal critic of the Wall Street bailout.
Ralph Nader, welcome to Democracy Now! First, let’s start off with John McCain announcing that he is going to suspend his campaign and wants the debate cancelled.
RALPH NADER: Well, I think Senator McCain is showboating. I mean, what’s going on in Washington and Congress now is the Bush administration is trying to pull the Constitution out by its roots and demand that Congress give it a blank check, without any criteria, without any accountability, for $700 billion bailout of Wall Street. It’s not dependent on whether John McCain returns to Washington other than to vote. I think he’s turning his back on over 50 million American voters who expect him to show up in Ole Miss with Barack Obama and who have made arrangements to do so. He talks a lot about honor and commitment. I think he ought to change his mind and get down to Ole Miss.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Ralph, the Democrats are claiming that they’ve been able to get some key concessions from the administration on its original plan. They say now they’re going to be—they’re going to cap CEO pay for those who participate in this bailout and that they’re going to get some kind of government participation or investment in these firms, so that if they make profits later on, that—or these securities make profits later on, that the government will be able to participate. But your sense—are these real substantive changes, or is this basically cosmetics on a plan that shouldn’t be in place in the first place?
RALPH NADER: Well, so far, it’s wish fulfillment. If you watch what Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Banking Committee, said yesterday, nothing has really been decided.
And also, it’s not clear at all why a bailout is needed. That’s part of the stampede in the pack and the panic that Bush and Paulson and Bernanke are pushing Congress toward. You know, it’s eerily reminiscent, when you listen to Bush yesterday, of how he stampeded the Congress and the country into the criminal war invasion of Iraq in 2003. I mean, look at all his statements: this could do this, this would do that, farms failing, small business, tada, tada. The first question we have to ask as citizens is, why is there a need for a bailout?
The only conceivable purpose of Treasury intervention, said Roger Lowenstein in the New Republic recently, quote, "is to buoy the market using taxpayer funds by paying higher-than-market prices. After all, if the government merely intended to match the market, what would be the point?” end-quote. In other words, if these mortgage-backed securities are distressed, well, they’re going to fetch a lower price. There’s huge amount of money on the sidelines in Wall Street, everybody admits that. So, as a hedge fund manager basically said, look, if the price comes down lower than what the government is trying to keep elevated, we’ll buy this paper. Warren Buffett put $5 billion into Goldman Sachs this week. There’s a lot of money to go around.
It’s quite interesting how the Bush regime is creating its own panic. When the government keeps saying Chicken Little, Chicken Little, the market is going to react in a very nervous manner. It’s a reversal of what the government usually does, which is to counsel stability and patience, etc.
So, the first question Congress should ask in detailed hearings, which aren’t occurring, is simply, why is there need for a bailout? Second is, if there is a need for a bailout, why $700 billion? And third, if there is a need for a bailout, what kind of bailout? Taxpayer equity? So the taxpayer can recover if these companies make a profit, they can recover surplus, perhaps the way they did on the taxpayer bailout in 1979 with Chrysler, where Jimmy Carter demanded that Chrysler issue stock warrants to the Treasury, and Chrysler turned around, and the Treasury sold the warrants for a $400 million profit.
I don’t think the Democrats show any nerve that they are going to do anything but cave here. And the statements by Nancy Pelosi are not reassuring, which is, “Well, it’s the Republicans’ bill, you know. Let them take responsibility for it.” That doesn’t work. She’s the Speaker of the House. The Democrats have got to say, “Slow down. We’re not going to be stampeded into this bill by Friday or Saturday. We’re going to have very, very thorough hearings.” Otherwise, it’s another collapse, at constitutional levels, of the Congress before King George IV.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re talking to Independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader. We’ll come back to this discussion. We’ll also be joined by Arun Gupta, who is the editor of The Indypendent and put out a letter on the internet that has just set the internet on fire, calling for a major protest today on Wall Street. It has gained steam. Many groups have signed on. Stay with us.
AMY GOODMAN: Our guest on the phone with us from Pittsburgh, where he’s campaigning, is Ralph Nader, Independent presidential candidate. Juan?
JUAN GONZALEZ: Ralph, you mention how the Democrats themselves are being stampeded at this point by the Bush administration. In my column in the Daily News yesterday, I raised how another Democratic leader and another Democratic Congress handled a situation, even a more dire situation, in 1933, on the two days after Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated as president, with thousands of banks crashing at that point, and he immediately shut down all the banks on his second day in office, called Congress into an emergency session and, over the next hundred days, adopted incredible legislation, including the Glass-Steagall Act, that we’ve mentioned quite often, on federal deposit insurance, aid to homeowners, farm subsidies, created the Tennessee Valley Authority, all in the midst of a crisis, probably the most progressive amount of legislation in the nation’s history, in any period. That’s a quite different approach. And he specifically criticized the banks and Wall Street as being at the root of the crisis.
RALPH NADER: That’s right. In those days, they had a serious solvency problem for these banks, which they don’t have, by and large, today. And that was admitted by Bernanke yesterday. Basically, Bernanke is saying, “Well, we’re doing this because the banks are contracting their credit, and this is affecting the economy.” Well, you can deal with that problem in a far better way than an ill-defined $700 billion bailout with total authority to the Treasury Secretary, with no judicial review, with no criteria and no reforms.
In other words, the Democrats should say, if they’re going to concede this bailout, is to say, “Well, we want comprehensive regulation and disclosure of the financial industry to make sure this doesn’t happen again. We want criminal prosecution of the crooks on Wall Street and disgorgement of their ill-gotten gains. We want a securities derivative tax and higher margin requirements to make speculators use their money, more of their money than other people’s money, like worker pension funds, to keep down speculation, as well as to produce revenues, which might lighten the tax load on working families. And we want to give shareholders control over the corporations they own.”
And they’re not even talking about these kinds of reforms. And this is the best time to get these reforms, because this is called a must bill on Congress—in Congress, and if Bush wants his package, he’s going to have to sign them. So, there’s no reciprocity here. It’s the usual fairly good questions by the Democrats at the hearings, but because they don’t follow through, they don’t have adequate leadership, it becomes a kind of posturing. It’s just maddening to watch how vague Bernanke and Paulson are in answering one question after another. It’s just an evasion, where they keep saying, “We need to do it. We need to do it.” And their Chicken Little material is conducted in closed session with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and the Republican leadership. It’s always in closed session.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, Ralph Nader, something that isn’t vague are the emerging rallies against Wall Street bailout that are being held today in over a hundred cities. In Washington, protesters are gathering outside the Treasury Department at 4:00 p.m. Here in New York, a protest is set for 4:00 p.m., as well, in Bowling Green Park near Wall Street.
The day of action has been partly inspired by an email sent out Monday by New York journalist Arun Gupta. In the email, Gupta described the bailout as the biggest robbery in world history. Arun Gupta is a reporter and editor at The Indypendent newspaper here in New York. He joins us in the firehouse.
You’ve just been written up in BusinessWeek. Talk about this letter. Talk about what you are putting out there.
ARUN GUPTA: Well, I do a good bit of economic writing, and I was trying to decipher the plan this weekend, and it became quickly apparent to me that this is a financial September 11th, that the Bush administration was trying to use the shock of this crisis, the self-induced crisis in this case, to ram through legislation that was highly ill-considered in terms of the actual economic merits, on the one hand, and then, on the other hand, it was this extreme power grab that would give these huge sweeping new powers to the Treasury Department.
So I wrote up this email. I sat on it overnight, because I was hesitant to send it out. I’m a journalist, not an organizer. But after talking with a few people, they felt I should send it out, so I sent it out to about 150 activists, organizers and media folks that I know in New York City. And it just exploded. You know, I don’t take any special credit for it. I was just tapping into this huge amount of anger and resentment that was out there.
JUAN GONZALEZ: Now, when you say “exploded,” what was the response?
ARUN GUPTA: Well, I talked to people who, within one hour of me sending it out and then them—I encouraged people, “Please forward widely.” They told me that within less than an hour, they had received it back from five or six different people. By the end of the day, apparently, a lot of big groups started jumping on it, including unions. By the next day, it was being endorsed and variations were being forwarded by True Majority, Code Pink, United for Peace and Justice. And so, it was just—it really showed the power of the internet in a particular moment.
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about these protests that are taking place around the country.
ARUN GUPTA: Well, it started, as you know—the idea is like gather in Wall Street, and I thought maybe it would be a dozen people, and we’d be standing on the sidewalk. But now it looks like there will be hundreds, even possibly thousands. And then, True Majority picked up the call, along with United for Peace and Justice, one of the main antiwar groups, and they said, you know, “Let’s have these day of actions around the country.”
So, all over the country now, there are going to be protests in various financial centers. I’ve been getting emails from people, you know, from every single corner of the United States, asking, you know, “What’s going on? How do we plug in?” And so, we’re just trying to point them to these websites. It’s like, look, here’s a list of the protests, or you can plan your own event. And this is really coming from across the political spectrum.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And as you said in your email, this is leaderless, and no main organization is in charge or no individual is in charge. Everyone is just participating themselves.
ARUN GUPTA: That’s what’s great about it. You know, when people say, “Who’s organizing this?” I say, “No one and everyone.” This was just a call to self-organize. And, you know, it’s like I’m just going to show up there as just one more person who’s against this ridiculous bailout, this giveaway to the rich.
AMY GOODMAN: Ralph Nader, who is Henry Paulson? I mean, we know he worked for Nixon, was the aide to John Ehrlichman, the ex-con, the man who went to jail; then went off to Goldman Sachs; he and Alan Greenspan still being considered the economic wise men, even though this all happened under their watch.
RALPH NADER: That’s when you know the system is decayed and corrupt, that the people who brought us this disaster—Robert Rubin, with Bill Clinton pushing through the financial deregulation monster in 1999, which we opposed, which opened the gates for this kind of wild speculation and this casino capitalism, is still an adviser. He’s an adviser to Barack Obama. He’s an adviser to members of Congress. Henry Paulson cashed out at Goldman Sachs in 2006 a half-a-billion dollars. And now he goes to Washington to bail out his buddies.
The public outrage out there is really enormous. The calls coming into C-SPAN yesterday were overwhelmingly against this bailout, this outrageous inequity, this double standard between the guys at the top and the people who are going to have to pay the bills under this bailout, the taxpayers and the consumers.
Mr. Gupta is right in the sense that this is leaderless, but it’s got to be more than just a rally of protests. It’s got to demand something. It’s got to be focused. Otherwise, it will fritter away. We’ve had rallies on Wall Street. It’s a great place to have rallies. You can really congregate a lot of people, and the Wall Street guys look out the window, and they can see the people are coming.
But the first step is to slow down Congress. Once this bill is passed—and it’s a blanket bill. It’s only four pages, Amy, four pages of a $700 billion blank check, transferring congressional authority wholesale, and I think unconstitutionally, to the White House, King George IV at work again. Once it passes, then the chance for comprehensive regulation and all the other changes to make Wall Street accountable, instead of allow Wall Street to create a corporate state or what Franklin Delano Roosevelt called fascism, which is government controlled by private economic power, represented by people like Henry Paulson—once this happens, it’s not going to be reversible.
JUAN GONZALEZ: And Ralph, what about the homeowners who were at the center of this crisis in foreclosure? A million Americans have lost their homes in recent years. There seems to be still no clear sense that any kind of bill will actually provide clear relief for people facing the loss of their homes.
RALPH NADER: You’re absolutely right, because Barney Frank was asked about that last night after the hearing, and he said, “This is a money proposition, if you’re going to deal with the homeowners. It’s not my Banking Committee; it’s Charlie Rangel’s House Ways and Means.” In other words, there’s nothing in this bill for homeowners. There’s everything in this bill to bail out the bankers who actually created this problem with these out-of-control speculative financial instruments.
AMY GOODMAN: Cynthia McKinney has offered to debate Barack Obama if he’s the only one who shows up at Ole Miss tomorrow. Are you also going to make that offer? And, Ralph Nader, would you consider, given the stakes of this election, encouraging your supporters in swing states to vote for Barack Obama?
RALPH NADER: Well, first, I’d be very happy to sit in the seat emptied by John McCain. But I think the stage can handle the only—only six presidential candidates. There aren’t enough electoral colleges to theoretically win the election. And second, I’m not at all impressed by Barack Obama’s positions on this so-called bailout. It’s just rhetoric. His Senate record has not reflected that at all.
As we campaign around the country—we’re now in forty-five states plus the District of Columbia, and we’re running five, six, seven percent in the polls, which is equivalent to nine, ten million eligible voters—we are going to try to rouse the public in a specific way: laser-beam focus on their senators and representatives. When these senators and representatives, if they allow this bailout deal in this general, vague manner to pass, when they go back home, they’re going to hit hornets’ nest. This is a situation where it doesn’t matter whether the people back home are Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, Nader-Gonzalez supporters. There’s such a deep sense of betrayal, of panic, of stampede, of surrender, of cowardliness in Congress, that it’s going to affect the election and the turnout.
I’d like Barack Obama, actually, to support the Nader-Gonzalez ticket.
AMY GOODMAN: Finally, Arun Gupta, people are bringing old junk to the protest today—records, old clothes, things they don’t want— to symbolize…?
ARUN GUPTA: That’s one of the themes, cash for trash, which is how this bailout bill is being characterized—in other words, that the government is giving the taxpayers’ good money for these worthless securities. So, many protesters are saying, well, let’s bring our own trash to Wall Street. We’ll create a junk pile and then ask the government to bail us out.
AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to leave it there. Arun Gupta is the reporter and editor of The Indypendent newspaper here in New York, organizer of today’s protest on Wall Street. There will be more than a hundred other protests around the country. We’ll report on them tomorrow. Ralph Nader, Independent candidate for president, speaking to us on the campaign trail in Pittsburgh.