Sanders' Statement on Wall Street Bailout

Bush Bailout Plan Unacceptable,
Sanders Says, Without Protecting Middle Class

BURLINGTON, Vt., September 21 - Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Sunday he would oppose a Bush administration proposal to bail out Wall Street unless the middle class is spared from bankrolling the rescue.

"This proposal as presented is an unacceptable attempt to force middle income families (and our children) to pick up the cost of fixing the horrendous economic mess that is the product of the Bush administration's deregulatory fever and Wall Street's insatiable greed," Sanders said.

"Let us be clear. If the economy is on the edge of collapse we need to act. But rescuing the economy does not mean we have to just give away $700 billion of taxpayer money to the banks," he added.

"These are the last days of the Bush administration, the most dishonest and incompetent in modern American history. It is imperative that, at this important moment, Congress stand up for the middle class and for fiscal integrity," Sanders concluded. "The future of our country is at stake."

The Treasury Department, proposing the biggest bailout since the Great Depression, on Saturday asked Congress for the power to buy $700 billion in sour assets that are dragging down the financial system and threatening the economy The rescue plan would give the federal government sweeping authority to purchase bad mortgage-related assets from U.S. financial institutions.

Sanders has laid out four principles that he said should shape consideration of the bailout by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

To pay for the bailout, he proposed a five-year, 10 percent surtax on income over $1 million a year for couples and over $500,000 for single taxpayers. That would yield more than $300 billion in revenue to cover losses the government will incur when it resells troubled mortgages it acquires from banks.

He also called for a major economic recovery package put Americans to work at decent wages. Any rescue package, he added, should include a return to stronger regulation of businesses and bust up giant corporations like those that got the country and Wall Street into the crisis. "If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist," Sanders said.

To read an op-ed by the senator, click here.