President Bush on Wednesday addressed the proposed $700 billion bailout of toxic debt on national television, asking America to support the plan to resolve the crisis and urging swift action from Congress.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chief Ben Bernanke have spent hours on Capitol Hill explaining to Congress the dire consequences of not acting immediately on the bailout, including warnings of a "credit freeze" or "recession." Democrats in Congress have resisted so far, insisting on limits to executive compensation and the size of the bailout.
In his address, Bush said he recognized many Americans fail to understand the crisis gripping Wall Street. He offered a detailed account of how easy money led to low lending standards and an excessive buildup in the housing market. He explained how the economy was awash with money. Yet, the frothy housing market required soaring prices. But once housing prices started to fall, they began plummeting. Homes fell into foreclosure, and a "domino effect" of lost businesses and jobs hurt the economy.
While Bush has a strong belief that "companies that make bad decisions should be allowed to go out of business," he said the widespread lack of confidence would hurt all Americans. Without immediate action, he warned that "America could slip into a financial panic" leading to a "long and painful recession.""We must not let this happen," Bush said.
Bush realized the reticence of leaders in Congress, saying "it will be tough," and "I understand the frustration of average Americans."