AFL-CIO Calls For A Stimulus Package

Isaiah J. Poole

Whatever you think of the Wall Street bailout bill that was voted on in the House of Representatives today, there is one thing we all should agree on: Congress must take steps this week to help the working families who are being hurt by this economic downturn.

Here’s what AFL-CIO President John Sweeney is saying about the bailout bill and what must come next:

The bailout bill that emerged from congressional negotiations over the weekend gives too little relief to homeowners and too much power to an administration that has demonstrated neither competence nor foresight. If passed, it will require vigilant monitoring. And without a robust economic recovery package and concrete help for homeowners, the bailout will not work. It will not address the real underlying weaknesses in the U.S. economy, and it will not earn the confidence of working men and women. It should not be enacted unless Congress moves forward with a meaningful economic stimulus package now.

Last week congressional Democrats laid out a plan that would have gone further toward addressing the most serious concerns that we have raised during this crisis, including effective protections for taxpayers and homeowners.

Congressional Republicans and President Bush blocked the economic stimulus bill in the Senate and they spent the weekend watering down the bailout bill that is now before Congress—weakening the independent oversight as well as the limits on executive compensation and eliminating bankruptcy relief for homeowners.

We understand the very serious risks to working families of a financial collapse, and we appreciate the need for comprehensive action on the part of our government. But we have serious doubts about the precise plan being proposed.

Given this uncertainty, and the magnitude of the powers and expenditures being requested by the Administration, we call on Congress to pass an economic stimulus package this week for Main Street, together with bankruptcy reform to help homeowners.

Without a stimulus and bankruptcy reform, the bailout looks like what it is —help for Wall Street —when what America needs is help for Main Street.

In a little-noticed act of obstruction last week, Senate conservatives blocked a vote on a stimulus package that was favored by majorities in both houses. As has happened repeatedly in this session of Congress, a tight group of right-wing senators filibustered the legislation.

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