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September 25th, 2008
08:31 AM ET

Tying up phone lines, protesting the bailout

John King
CNN Chief National Correspondent

Suzanne Studer is patient and polite, her greeting constant: “Congressman Denny Rehberg’s office, Suzanne speaking ……”

To spend an hour with her on Wednesday was to understand firsthand why consensus in the Congress is proving hard to come by, and why President Bush felt compelled to address the nation in a prime time effort to sell the administration’s $700 billion financial rescue package.

“Absolutely not on the bailout,” Studer repeated as she took notes on one call.

“Protest on the bailout, ok,” as she took another.

“You are calling to protest – well you know I have heard a lot of those so let me just get this written down,” she says politely to yet another frustrated constituent.

Studer has worked in the office two years now and says she has never experienced anything like the flood of calls in recent days, and not a one in support of the package.

“I got one, ‘Think about it,’” she told us.

Montana’s two senators report similar calls, emails, faxes and in some cases walk-in complaints from constituents who don’t trust what they are hearing from Washington, and increasingly worry they will get stuck with the bill but not share in any economic benefits.

Montana’s Democratic governor, Brian Schweitzer, calls it a classic case of Washington disconnect from the real world, and says he meets skeptic after skeptic as he works and travels the state campaigning for re-election himself.

“They say, 'my God, this looks like a condition where the powerful are going to give money to the rich, what’s new?'” Schweitzer told CNN in an interview at a ranch on the outskirts of Helena.

“People say now wait a minute – my stock has gone down – I lost 15 or 20 percent. I had one guy walk up to me and say I invested in Fannie Mae... my value is down to zero and they are going to bail out the big banks – what gives here?”

As Congress works on the plan, lawmakers say they are adding protections for taxpayers, like an oversight board and provisions designed to make sure the government gets most if not all of the money back if and when financial conditions – especially the housing market – improve.

But it is clear in travels this week, especially here in Montana, that most Americans, as uneasy as they may be about the economy, don’t have a lot of faith in the politicians promising to fix things.

“Not believable,” Schweitzer says when asked about the case by Mr Bush and others that the package needs to be approved this week to avoid dire results. He says Congress needs to take its time and “ask a few questions.”

And he says if the plan is going to be palatable to people out here, it has to pass a clear test: “If we are going to bail these coyotes out , then why wouldn’t we have an equity position? Why wouldn’t the taxpayer make a little money if they do turn around instead of just shoving that money out the door and have them pay themselves big golden parachutes. I think we need a Congress that stands up and asks the tough questions and says look, it might take us a couple extra days to get this done.”


Filed under: Economy • President George W. Bush • Raw Politics
soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. R.W. Sorenson

    Something vital is not being mentioned–the role of the Federal Reserve in all this. Although the Constitution says that only Congress has the power to create money, that power has been handed over to the private bankers of the Federal Reserve. Imagine it! They can create money from thin air with no accountability. They loan money into existence which can only result in a debtor-based society, a usery system.

    The Solution? Create a Federal Reserve that, in accordance with the Constitution, actually is federal, and make them accountable. Then we will be taking the largest single step in the right direction. Until that is done the country is in the hands of New World Order manipulators.

    September 25, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  2. Maureen, Newman California

    @Cindy – I don't think this is a Democrat vs Republican thing pertaining to not wanting to bail out. I really just think that most people(of all parties) do not really understand how doing nothing might affect them personally. Controllers and accounting personnel have a pretty good idea of their companie's financial status. But the majority of Americans do not have a clue as to how their paychecks are generated because they are not directly involved with the process. Where this money is really coming from. I really do wish that Pelosi and a Republican leader will come forward together tonight or soon to explain this is a way that we can all relate to.

    September 25, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
  3. Debbie Fischer

    I am the working poor/middle class and I refuse to pay ANY taxes to enable a dishonest greedy CEO to have a decent "severance package". Maybe refusing to pay taxes is the answer. Seems to work for them.

    September 25, 2008 at 12:50 pm |
  4. wayney

    When are you bums going to start talking about Section 8 of this bailout plan. The U.S. media failed with regard to Iraq. Don't fail the American people again.

    September 25, 2008 at 12:48 pm |
  5. GF, Los Angeles

    @ Jim how can you give $700 billion to the taxpayers when that $700 billion is coming from us? Each of us would be paying over $2,000 to make up that $700 billion. I for one will not pay a dime to help another person save their house when I don't even own one!

    September 25, 2008 at 12:32 pm |
  6. Janey

    I have not seen the kind of "tanking" in the DOW that would seem to agree of a financial disaster. It is up over 250 at this very moment.

    It should not be allowed and every elected official that votes for it needs to be replaced come January.

    September 25, 2008 at 12:28 pm |
  7. Keith

    Why didn't the democratic controlled congress break this news to us two years ago? Are there no genius economic experts in the democratic party; apparently there's none in the republican party?
    Obama is supposed to be an economic genius, he's running for POTUS, or did he not want the fact that he was getting $$ from Fanny & Freddie to become public knowledge; yeah I know that they are ALL getting backdoor $$ from lobbyists but I'd hoped that the ray of light called Obama would have had the ethics to say no to the bribes.

    September 25, 2008 at 12:28 pm |
  8. Susan

    John:

    Can you answer me the following three questions ???? Do you think that the 535 financial experts in Congress really know what they are doing to solve this very complicated economic problem ????? Do you think that Sect. Paulson and Fed Chairman Bernanke, whose policies have contributed to the problems are the correct cheerleaders for this economic bailout ?????? Is there really a crisis ???????

    Susan
    Phoenixville,PA

    September 25, 2008 at 11:46 am |
  9. sonya schrader

    no bail out for the banks they should sink like the taxpayer have too

    September 25, 2008 at 11:44 am |
  10. Jim

    Why not give the 700 billon to the US taxpayers, Then they will be able to bring their mortages current, payoff their credit cards ect, and maybe have some extra money to spur the economy. The lendors will get the cash they need to become solvent again – crisis over!

    September 25, 2008 at 11:40 am |
  11. Gary Chandler in Canada

    GIVE THE 700,000,000,000 DOLLARS to each Citizen.
    They have to use $1500 for debt reduction and $500 for shopping.
    (3 months to Christmas)
    Also, LET principal home owners realign failing mortgages, like you can with your second home.
    $10,000 per average family, $7500 off debt and $1500 for shopping would work from the bottom up, not top down!

    September 25, 2008 at 11:25 am |
  12. Mike

    I have an idea. The current population of the United States is 300 Million people. As opposed to bailing out AIG to the tune of 700 Billion, why don't we give every tax paying citizen of the United States, 1 million dollars each and mandate that they payoff their house. I would predict the US tax payer will gladly be paying their taxes every year, spend their disposable income on stimulating the economy, and Washington politicians might actually become popular again. An obvious bargain. What do you think?

    September 25, 2008 at 10:04 am |
  13. margaret

    John McCain said the following yesterday, 9/25: “Following Sept. 11, our national leaders came together at a time of crisis. We must show that kind of patriotism now.”

    He seems not to understand that on 9/11 we were attacked by terrorists from other countries. This crisis has been precipitated by the stunning greed of a very few Americans. Our own have done this do us!

    Show patriotism? The government will be fortunate if we don't take to the streets!

    September 25, 2008 at 9:52 am |
  14. Larry L.

    My post here is not to defend Bush,but after reading the blogs,I realize the bulk of the Dems that post their thoughts have no idea how we got in this mess.Before Bush was elected ,Clinton and congress ,wanted everybody to have home ownership(nice idealistic thought)so they funded fredy and fanny.Banks had to except loans that would not have normally gone through,guaranteed by,(as it turns out ,tax payers)so it's not BUSH's fault ,but it is the Democrats who got us here.

    THIS IS NOT A LIE,but it might be a hard pill for you to swallow,check it out!!

    September 25, 2008 at 9:50 am |
  15. Barry

    So now we're to believe the government's so called financial experts that this bailout is necessary. We've been listening to the MBA financial experts for years and look where they took us. The government want's us to save the economy...who's gonna save us the middle class?

    September 25, 2008 at 9:46 am |
  16. Gena- Illinois

    To be for or against the bailout people need to understand it. If we have officials as well as highly paid economists that dont understand it yet, how is the average American understanding it....

    September 25, 2008 at 9:30 am |
  17. Michael Bizub

    How about splitting the 700 Billion dollars equally between the US Citizen's (Currently 305,251,964 according to the US Census Bureau) and boosting the economy! That's 2.293 Million dollars per US Citizen, the value of the dollar is crap so this makes just as much sense as putting the money back into Wall Street!

    September 25, 2008 at 9:30 am |
  18. Cindy

    Well if these people who think that they know it all and are calling for us not to bail anyone out then what do they propose we do? Let our economy fail and we go into a recession greater than the Great Depression!? Some people need to get a clue! It is not just Bush that is saying that we need this or the reps it is all of the dems too! Why do you think they are meeting right now in Washington. If they didn't think it needed to be done then you better bet your butt they wouldn't be there! Some people need to open their eyes to reality and stop listening to people who don't know what they are talking about. Unless you are there with Bush, the dems and reps then you have no real idea of what is going on!

    Cindy...Ga.

    September 25, 2008 at 9:28 am |
  19. Alex

    It is my humble opinion that if the sky were actually falling and George W. Bush got on TV to warn the public, the majority of citizens WOULD NOT believe him. His credibility as President and leader of our nation is completely gone. He has repeatedly lied or misstated the truth so why should we believe him now? He has done most things to benefit the rich during his tenure in the White House and has gotten our great nation into so many BAD deals. If the majority of the ordinary people in our nation are going to take an economic blood bath, then why should Wall Street and the wealthy be spared from suffering like the rest of us? Not this time Mr. Bush! You had ample chances during the past 7+ years and you flat blew it.

    September 25, 2008 at 8:37 am |
  20. Lena

    This is sooooo ridiculous!!!!!!

    Why should we, the taxpayers bailout the rich? When just last year my

    mortgage was late due to financial hardship. Guess what? I still

    received harrassing letters and non-stop phone calls after repeatly

    explaining my circumstances. Who will protect the poor?

    GET THE CRIMINALS OUT OF OFFICE..

    September 25, 2008 at 8:13 am |
  21. Patricia

    Lets see the folks that gave us WMD and the Patriot Act are now getting ready to give 700 billion dollars to the same jerks that got us into this mess.
    The Bush Administration has 0000000 capital. He and his cornies have lied to the American people, and I expect he is lying about this now.
    Here is a thought from left field. I am going to blame this mess on George and Barbara Bush. It is for sure that neither of them read the story of the Little Boy Who Cried Wolf to their son.
    Or, "Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me."

    We get it George, (43) your a liar and you are probably lying now

    September 25, 2008 at 8:12 am |
  22. Jim McCanna

    So the “Kingdom of Bush” wants us to buy this rotten paper at market value and hold these properties until a profit can be realized. Well, let’s look at that, who established fair market value, was it a board certified appraiser with itemized cost estimates to bring these properties up to sale condition or was it a bunch of realtors (all of who helped to run these properties prices up into the ridiculous range).

    Who is going to protect these properties from vandalism while you wait several years
    until the market will handle these properties and what is the new estimated cost to bring
    these properties up to value? What are the handling cost to sell these properties? How many of these properties are in dangerous neighborhoods where a sale is almost impossible?

    Apparently you think you are going to make money on this, if this was true these people would never part with them or try to unload them on the taxpayer.

    Let’s face it up front, this is a total bailout of the rich and famous and the taxpayer will get nothing back except a true feeling that they has once again been swindled by their leaders.

    Not smarther than a 5th grader

    JJ in Nv

    September 25, 2008 at 7:29 am |
  23. Brian Devitt

    How many generations of Americans will it take to pay back 700 billion dollars

    September 25, 2008 at 6:36 am |