“Today communities across America, and far from Wall Street, are hurting. Families are struggling to fill up the tank, to afford health care and to send their kids to college. And even if they’ve played by the rules, paid their bills on time and have good credit, they are now at risk because of the Bush Administration’s failure to rein in Wall Street greed.
“People want to know if this crisis is real. I have asked the same question of Secretary Paulson and Chairman Bernanke. I have spoken with economic experts and Washington state business leaders. Companies like Weyerhaeuser, Microsoft and Avista have made it clear that something must be done. Homebuilders and farmers have contacted me asking Congress to act. But, most compelling to me are the conversations I’ve had with Washington residents who want to buy a home or get student loans and are worried. They are having a hard time getting credit and they don’t know what to do.
“Across the board there is deep and genuine concern about market collapse and the potential impact on jobs, credit and retirement accounts.
“But what makes taxpayers across the country so rightfully angry is that this situation was preventable. I have heard from thousands of Washington residents who say, ‘don’t bail them out.’
“I understand the anger of those who want to let Wall Street shoulder the consequences of their own misdeeds. I am angry too. But the reality is that those who created the problem won’t be those who are hurt most. The hardest hits will be taken by average Americans.
“We have already experienced a slowdown in home sales and construction. Our hometown bank, Washington Mutual, has faltered and failed. It’s becoming more difficult to get a loan or to refinance a home. But if this crisis worsens, credit could dry up completely – both for consumers and for companies seeking to make their payrolls. The bottom line is that without a steady stream of credit, American businesses can’t pay their workers and Americans will lose their jobs. That’s why a rescue plan is urgently needed.
“This is not the legislation I would have written. It’s not legislation I wanted to support. But this is not the time to tell America’s families, ‘Sorry, you’re on your own’ and hope for the best. And that’s why I support the bill we’ll vote on today.
“The President’s plan was a non-starter. We said no to his blank check. No to free rein with billions of taxpayer dollars. No to golden parachutes. What we hope to pass today is a more prudent agreement to anchor rescue dollars to strict Congressional oversight and review by independent economic experts. We added taxpayer protections including help for families hit by the foreclosure crisis and plans to recoup money from any institutions that see a profit. And in the end, we hope that most, if not all of the taxpayer money we’re investing will be returned once this crisis comes to a close.
“Congress has to be vigilant in our oversight of how this law is implemented. Every transaction that takes place regarding this funding will be on the Internet for all Americans to see. And I strongly support the FBI’s investigation into the current crisis on Wall Street. If fraud and criminal activity are uncovered, the individuals responsible must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
“We also have to take a hard look at the factors that brought us to this point and seriously address them. Congress must hold hearings on the causes of this crisis and the regulation reform that is desperately needed. The next administration has to work with Congress to pass and implement new regulatory measures so that taxpayers are never put in this terrible position again.
“This package is not a cure-all. It’s an attempt to keep an already bad situation from getting much worse.
“Americans who are hurting today will still be hurting tomorrow and it will take both investment and honesty to get our economy back on track. We’ve seen where a ‘you-can-have-it-all’ attitude has left us. The next administration will inherit this economic crisis along with many other serious challenges. I hope our new President is honest with the American people about where we stand and what it will take to move America forward.
“We know what it will take to move forward and get back on our feet. We have to invest in the infrastructure and education that creates economic growth and jobs. We have to value our workforce and find a way to make health care affordable and accessible. We have to invest in research and development and reward innovation. We have to implement a smart, forward-looking energy policy that ends our addiction to foreign oil once and for all.
It’s time to put America’s families first and restore their faith that government works for, not against, them.
“I grew up with a country at my back – one that when my own father got sick and could no longer work was there with Pell grants and student loans and even food stamps when we needed them. I will always remember that. I will support this rescue package because the American dream of owning a home or going to college is simply too important to take a back seat to politics or to be put at risk by the misdeeds of Wall Street.”