Editorial: Hold out for more (Bennington Banner)

Thus far, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have refused to cave to pressure from the Bush administration and the Federal Reserve chairman to approve an emergency $700 billion financial bailout plan. That is a good thing.

Someone has to push hard at this point to ensure that the interests of the vast majority of Americans are taken into account. In general, that means that tough new regulatory measures should be put in place to obliterate the reckless years of irresponsible lending that made millions for a few and now have us on the brink of economic catastrophe.

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, meanwhile, are issuing dire warnings of doom if Congress does not act quickly to rubber-stamp the administration's bailout plan, which essentially calls for a free hand to do what they want with the cash.

The trouble is, both men, as well as former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, did little to nothing while the financial sector invested heavily in ever riskier junk loans, despite repeated warnings from more sensible economists. Congress should trust no one except itself to pass a very specific plan that includes lending and asset guidelines for financial firms, full disclosure of assets and investments, and new lending practice regulations.

It wouldn't hurt, either, to impose limits on income packages for company leaders.Bringing those salaries more in line with what the average worker receives is necessary, if only to discourage the get rich quick and to hell with everyone and everything else mentality that has gripped the nation over the past several years.