Congress bailout talks continue

News Report
Ikaika M Hussey

On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate began talks on an amendment by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to impose a surtax on the wealthiest Americans to pay for a $700 billion emergency bailout.

In a time when both Democrats and Republicans are trying to regroup before giving the bailout plan a second go, the independent senator is adamant in voting against the bill unless his amendment is included.

"Having mismanaged the economy for eight years while continually insisting that the 'fundamentals of our economy are strong,' the Bush administration now wants the middle class of this country to bail out Wall Street," Sanders said. "Meanwhile the wealthiest people, those who have benefited most from Bush's policies and are in the best position to pay, are being asked for no sacrifice at all. This is absurd."

The Sanders amendment will raise $300 billion from a five-year, 10 percent surtax on couples with incomes of more than $1 million and individuals earning $500,000.

In its current unamended form, the bailout plan does not address the economic crisis in the big picture, Sanders said, such as growing unemployment, low wages, the need to create well paying jobs, and moving toward energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

Sanders also has said that any effective program to help the economy also should re-regulate the financial services industry, include an economic recovery program to put Americans to work at decent wages, and break up huge companies so that there is no longer anything that is too big to fail.

H.R. 1424 passed in the Senate yesterday 74 to 25. The bill will act as a vehicle for economic rescue legislation by allowing the federal government to purchase and insure residential or commercial mortgages issued on or before March 14, 2008 and any other financial instrument determined necessary after a process including appropriate Congressional committees.

Both Hawai'i Senators Daniel Akaka and Daniel Inouye voted in favor of the bill. On Monday, Hawai'i Representatives Neil Abercrombie and Mazie Hirono voted against the bailout plan in the House.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that the House will not take another bailout bill to the floor if it does not have the votes. Democrat Pelosi and Republican Majority Leader John Boehner are currently working with the House in hopes of changing at least 12 potential votes to yes.

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