Main Street needs to support bailout

To all you "Main Streeters" who protested the federal bailout plan for its lack of accountability and socialization of losses, I have a message for you. I feel your pain, I share your pain, but things are only going to get worse if Americans don’t come together and tell their members of Congress to vote for it.

Every hard-working American has a right to be furious about CEO golden parachutes in which corporate titans strip companies of all their value and walk away with large fortunes for their great (uh, that is, horrendous) work. Clearly Congress and the White House must rein in, even ban huge payouts for self-promoting profiteers who buy Lear jets and McMansions while the rest of us see our life savings dwindle to nothing.

The list of profiteers is disgusting. According to the New York Daily News, the plan the U.S. House turned down on Monday would have allowed, "Washington Mutual Chief Executive Alan Fishman, who had been on the job for just three weeks when the bank went bust…walk away with more than $18 million in salary, bonuses and severance. Robert Willumstad, former chief executive officer of insurance giant AIG, could have gotten a $22 million exit package — after just three months at his post. Willumstad turned down the package." (As well he should. At least one of them has a conscience!)

The list continues: "If failed CEO Richard Fuld were to leave Lehman Brothers as it struggles to sell off its assets, he could rake in about $65 million in salary and bonuses, a top Wall Street analyst said. That’s on top of the estimated $446 million he was paid between 1993 and 2007."

The consequences of not passing the bailout plan — or as some in Congress and the financial world have renamed it the "recovery" plan — are pervasive, painful and possibly devastating. If small businesses can’t borrow money to keep going, many will fail. They are the economic engines that keep job growth steaming along. Right now there is no job growth, only job decline. We can hardly stand by and watch record unemployment rates go up and up and up. Second, a new wave of bank failures will not only harm consumers, but drive Wall Street losses higher and higher.

Third, it’ll become much tougher to take out mortgages, student loans, and to keep the flow of credit helping average Americans stay afloat. Lastly, if Congress doesn’t do something, and fast, a crash in the personal credit industry comes next. People won’t be able to pay off their credit card balances and no one knows where that will take us.

Meanwhile, the Senate version of the bailout/recovery bill had some much-needed goodies for consumers to entice the protesters of last week into the, "Yes, we now support the bill" category. Among the goodies is an increase in FDIC limits to $250,000 of protection for savings, up from an outmoded $100,000 amount. The 450-page proposal also includes tax breaks for business and the middle class.

Barrons writer Bob O’Brien notes: "(This, coming on a day when the national deficit is expected to eclipse the $10 trillion mark.) Other trinkets, such as an extension of jobless benefits and a homeownership tax break, might also get stapled on before a vote is taken. The expectation is that the added features would afford the legislation some momentum that would allow it to hit the Senate chamber running. (Though if significant additions of heft actually make something faster, your average business journalist ought to be able to out-run that Usain Bolt fellow.)"

There’s hope the stock market’s response and passage by the Senate of its plan will prompt House members to reconsider their "no" votes of Monday. Last week public opinion was about equally split on the bailout plan. There’s been a reversal since the stock market plunged 777 points on Monday.

Congressional staffers are telling media outlets calls from constituents more often than not urge them to pass, not defeat, the plan. And opinion polls are showing and increase in support for it by more Americans.

So if you’re angry, adamant and against, please understand the person on whom you’re venting your fury is yourself.


(Bonnie Erbe is a TV host and columnist. E-mail bonnieerbe(at)


  1. Malibu

    The Senate passed the bail out 75 to 24 but could not help adding some of the sleaziest pork possible. Bonnie Erbe is wrong to think the Congress can pass this kind of legislation adding to our already blooming debt with pork.
    They voted for 400 pages that nobody sane, could have read in such a short time. Here we go again, another massive plan being pushed in the House Friday unread just like the Patriot’s Bill. I hope the House stands firmly against this rape of our budget.

    Throw the bastards out!


  2. CheckerboardStrangler

    If the bailout passes:

    The unemployment rate will still increase, growth will still remain anemic, house prices will continue to fall, the number of houses in foreclosure will continue to rise, credit will still be harder to get, states and localities will still remain in a fiscal crisis, and there will still be cutbacks in basic public services.

    And the wealth gap will have become legislated into permanency as the hyper-rich get rocketed into safe orbit above Plantation Earth.
    The will of the people has been not just been ignored, it has been thrust against the wall by its neck and shackled in irons and told to shut up if it knows what’s good for it.

    We will now watch the effect of paying an insurmountable debt with even more debt and we will witness the beginning of the end of the debt money system.

    We have removed the ability of businesses to fail and thus have removed our ability to succeed.

  3. bryan mcclellan

    Welcome to the cashless society.

    Roadside fruit stands will now accept only credit or debit cards exclusively. No cash no barter.

    There will be a small unregulated fee for each transaction.

    You don’t really need that extra tomato now do you?

  4. bryan mcclellan

    Good for you, my garden has gone the way of this legislation, looks good from the back door, not so good when examining the fruit.Too many turnips, not enough room for growth.

    Leave it to these jokers to subtract by addition, starting with three pages and ending with another bubble of confusing jargon that few if any of them will read in it’s entirety before voting.

    They continually play the game of walk in the room for 30 seconds, walk out and write down what you’ve seen. Then we’ll compare notes for like minded impressions and squeal like pigs that it’s the other guys fault because we can’t agree on the wallpaper.

    My greatest fear is doing this in leaps rather than measured steps, hell, it’s impossible to know whats on the roof when standing on the bottom rung of the ladder.And they dare say this is leadership,HACK!

  5. RichardKanePA


    I would like to see George Soros and Ron Paul jointly in charge. Someone has to be in charge and fast. Might as well be someone not guilty and who is on the ball.

  6. Raymond Bellah

    “Politicians and diapers should be changed freguently for the same reason”

    All the Senate has accomplished is to further demonstate their inability to comprehend the seriousness of the problem.

    Why anyone with the ability to add, subtract, multiply, and divide would expect a pork ladened patch applied to an already deceased system to be appealing enough for passage by the House is merely a further example of how and why this Congress has failed in its duties to represent the people of the United States.

    The banking system structure itself is the problem, with a built in failure that cannot be avoided and indeed can be precipitated at will by those who choose to do so.

    Let the old Federal Reserve die and be done with it. We would be better served by a Constitutionally based monitary system as advocated by Senator Ron Paul R-Texas.

    Congressman Ron Paul – Fri 24 Feb, 2006
    …In a speech before the US House of Representatives last week, Congressman Ron Paul stated that the end of dollar hegemony is nigh…and when this paper money runs out, wealth and political stability is lost…

  7. almandine

    Just another primped up TV host and columnist…

    Bonnie, you ignorant $#@*&^%$.

    Where does Doug get these igmos?