On Monday, despite the support of 60% of Democrats, the House of Representatives voted down a rescue package to save our country from an economic emergency. By the end of the day, $1.2 trillion of invested wealth had been wiped out.
It’s easy to think of Wall Street as almost another country, far removed from our daily lives. But think of how much of that $1.2 trillion was in pension funds, retirement accounts, or 401(k)s. What happens on Wall Street affects all of us. Bill Novelli, the head of AARP, wrote that he’s found 10 ways in which a financial crisis could harm families and retirees, from higher credit card interest rates, to more home foreclosures, to layoffs, to devastated pension funds. In fact, the value of equity investments held by pensions has declined 23% over the past year–that means that nearly $600 billion in retirement savings had evaporated. This morning brought the news that the economy lost 159,000 jobs last month, and more than three-quarters of a million jobs this year.
Worse could be on the way without strong action from Congress. Fortunately, we’re bringing a new version of the rescue plan to the floor of the House today. The Senate passed that version on Wednesday, and we hope to do the same.
Both Democrats and Republicans have significantly improved the President’s plan. We fought to ensure that taxpayers will be the first to profit if and when those assets rise again in value.
We restricted executive compensation, because CEOs whose recklessness helped bring on this crisis do not deserve taxpayer-subsidized golden parachutes.
Finally, we will help homeowners renegotiate their mortgages, to prevent a further flood of 2 million projected foreclosures that would devastate our communities.
On Wednesday, the Senate raised federal insurance of bank accounts from, $100,000 to $250,000, and also chose to add several tax cuts.
I disagree with those tax provisions, because they will be financed irresponsibly, by borrowing more money on top of our huge national debt.
But an emergency like this is the time to compromise. For the sake of families struggling to keep their homes, workers afraid of pink slips they did nothing to earn, and millions of seniors who deserve to keep the money they saved all their lives–the House must act today.
Majority Leader Steny Hoyer
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