Despite a few major bumps, Congress made inroads today settling on terms for a $700 billion bailout of the financial sector.
The near collapse of the U.S. financial system has policy makers wrangling over how to repair the tattered markets. Debates over corporate compensation, and the value of mortgaged backed securities, among other issues, keeps Democrats and Republicans at work trying to find a bipartisan solution to a problem that will saddle taxpayers on Main Street with the bill.
The problem even made its way to the White House. President George W. Bush said on Wednesday, “our entire economy is in danger."
This afternoon, after morning deliberations, Senator Bob Bennett (R-Utah) told the Associated Press, "I now expect that we will indeed have a plan that can pass the House, pass the Senate [and] be signed by the president.”
The bailout will hopefully free up some cash, allowing businesses to get loans, and increasing employment levels, says Leonard Wright, Chairman of Financial Planning at the California Society of CPA. “[Then] the banks could move on to deal with other problems," says Wright.
But the question remains, how the bailout will affect Main Street America. Some don’t see much help for the average American. “A year ago, when Bear Stearns collapsed we were assured by the Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson that all the risks were well contained, they were mistaken then, and I believe they are mistaken now,” says Jeff Wilson, President of Wilson Advisory Group, a wealth management group based in Denver, Colo. “We have to invest in Americans instead of buying toxic debt,” a term associated with the debt being purchased by the government, says Wilson.
“The unfortunate and serious part is that these investments are created by brilliant MBAs, PHDs, computer science people and they are based on mathematical models, and many are virtually impossible for an outsider to value," says Wilson. “I don’t believe we can evaluate the problem. What we really have to do is work on the fundamental strength and confidence in our economy.”
It looks like we’ll soon learn the true value of our new bailout.
Having a hard time getting your head around the figures? Here's what the $700 Bailout Looks Like in Numbers:
Is equal to about $2,300 for every man, woman and child in the United States of America. (Are you a family of four? "That's $9,200, please.")
Is worth more than 100 billion movie tickets.
It would take 1,353 sequels to The Dark Knight, if each matched the $517,000,000 domestic gross of the film to date.
Is $266 billion more than the combined wealth of the top 20 richest Americans.
Is 46 times the state of California's budget deficit.
Is $178 billion more than what the Iraq War has cost so far.
Is $218 billion more than the 2008 Defense Spending budget.
Is more than 12 times the 2008 Budget for Education.
Is the total of 3.5 million home mortgages worth $200,000.