[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/23/paulson.9.23.jpg caption="Treasury Secretary Paulson testified before the banking committee Tuesday."]Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editor, Publisher, The Nation
The Administration has put a corporate-led bailout on the table with the threat that Congress pass it as is or face a worldwide economic catastrophe. We've seen this kind of shock and awe, do it our way or else, fear mongering before. Yes, action is needed, but that action must be smart, just and effective. Action must ensure that this taxpayer-funded rescue doesn't reward the very people on Wall Street who created this mess while shafting the needs of Main Street.
The President, the Federal Reserve, SEC and Congressional committees responsible for regulation and oversight failed to act in the public or national interest and allowed this economic meltdown to reach crisis proportions. It's ironic that the same people and firms that preached free-market capitalism are the ones now demanding a speedy taxpayer bailout.
This bailout should be seized as an opportunity to start addressing the real economic crisis–the one on Main Street–where the struggle to make ends meet is increasingly more dire in an economy marked by job losses, crumbling infrastructure, the lowest levels of personal savings since the 1920s, Gilded Age inequality and the highest level of foreclosed homes since the Great Depression.
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