White House spokesman Tony Fratto the administration was “fairly optimistic that we have a good chance for a successful vote tomorrow.” Listening in on Mr. Bush’s lobbying, “I overheard some of the calls that went from no to yes,” Mr. Fratto added.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has spent thousands of dollars on advertising to convince the public that the rescue effort is necessary to stabilize the economy.
“We lost [Monday], no doubt about it; I have no intention of losing again,” said R. Bruce Josten, the chamber’s executive vice president for government affairs. “We pushing, we’re pressing and we’re playing hard.”
The core of the Wall Street rescue package, proposed by Mr. Paulson just two weeks ago remains intact: the Treasury Department would get up to $700 billion to buy up now-worthless mortgages and mortgage-related securities that are clogging the books of the nation’s banks and financial firms. Until those assets are dealt with, Mr. Paulson argues, banks will not lend, consumers and businesses will be unable to borrow, and the aftershocks will be felt in retirement pensions, savings plans, paychecks and payrolls across the country.
Lawmakers say they have improved the original three-page Paulson blueprint, adding several layers of oversight; some relief for homeowners struggling to meet mortgage payments; strict limits on executive pay who participate in the plan; and an ownership stake for the federal government in the companies being helped. If and when the U.S. housing market recovers and the mortgages gain in value, the government stands to recoup at least some of the money spent.
One Senate change that is likely to appeal to wavering House lawmakers in both parties would raise the ceiling on federal insurance of bank deposits from the current $100,000 to $250,000.
But conservative critics say the package remains a massive taxpayer-financed government intrusion in the private markets, and will likely not address the economy’s underlying weaknesses. Liberal opponents argue the bailout is tailored to Wall Street’s needs and does not do enough to help small businesses or homeowners.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank, a key negotiator in the bailout talks, discounted the idea that the Senate vote, with presidential rivals Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. Barack Obama in support, would be decisive in the House re-vote.
“We generally don’t take each other as a role model,” Mr. Frank said in an interview on CNBC.
But he added the modified Senate bill could provide political cover for enough opponents to switch sides.View Entire Story
Raised in Northern Virginia, David R. Sands received an undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He worked as a reporter for several Washington-area business publications before joining The Washington Times.
At The Times, Mr. Sands has covered numerous beats, including international trade, banking, politics ...
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