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Congresswoman Waters Supports Financial Rescue Package for Main Street

July 20, 2009
Press Release

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Monday in support of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act, legislation drafted by Congress to stabilize American financial markets, help American families and small businesses and protect taxpayers and homeowners.  Although the legislation did not pass the House on Monday, the House is scheduled to vote tomorrow on legislation passed by the Senate that includes financial rescue provisions.  A copy of Congresswoman Waters' statement from Monday on the importance of passing legislation that helps the people and businesses on Main Street follows:

First, I would like to thank Barney Frank [Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee] for his extraordinary work, accepting the impossible task of making sense of the economic crisis we are facing.

Madam Speaker, $700 billion is a lot of money. Bailout for Wall Street? I don't think so. I could care less about Wall Street and the high-priced schemers and their tricky products: hedge funds, short selling, and insider trading. I care about Main Street and Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.

I am voting "yes" on this bill because this $700 billion will purchase the nonperforming loans, the bad debt, and the toxic paper which, if left to the market, could cause the greatest financial crisis our country has ever seen. These nonperforming loans represent people, real Americans in trouble. Yes, some got in over their heads. They contracted for mortgages they could not afford. But many Americans are the victims of predatory lending, suckered into adjustable rate mortgages that lured them with a low interest rate, no down payment, or no documentation loans that adjusted or reset within 6 months, 1 year, 2 years, or 3 years. Homeowners were not always told the truth. Upon reset, homeowners were then faced with mortgages that doubled, tripled, or quadrupled with the new interest rates and the margins that were added to the existing interest rates.

There's enough blame to go around. Greed, a regulatory system that turned a blind eye to these exotic schemes and products, brokers and banks who peddled these products, and investment banks who invested in these products all share some of the blame. We must correct the problems caused by these loans. We must modify these loans and stop the foreclosures and help American families keep their homes. We must reform our Federal regulatory agencies and never allow this subprime exploitation to occur again.

Today we have financial institutions that will fail if we do not act. Credit will dry up for home mortgages, auto purchases, student loans, and small businesses. More jobs will be lost and the economy will crash.

I would have preferred to have a strong bankruptcy provision in this bill, giving Americans a real option to work themselves out of debt. I would have also liked to have seen a provision providing a substantial fee to Wall Street firms that participate in this program. But, unfortunately, there was not the support or political will to get these things done.

I have worked on this bill to strengthen the ability for the servicers who collect those mortgage payments and fees to modify these loans. I have worked to assist small regional and minority banks. I have included language to open up the ability for women and minorities to participate in asset management and all the other business opportunities, including opportunities for the newspapers, ad agencies, consulting firms, real estate professionals, legal services, financial managers, and information systems consulting services that will be created as we use these funds to clean up this mess.
Madam Speaker, I am also pleased that the bill creates a Financial Stability Oversight Board to oversee the work that is to be done in this Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008.

Finally, I cannot take the chance that people who have worked all of their lives to save for their retirement will lose their pension funds and 401(k) savings nor can I take the chance that the stock market will be weakened and Americans will lose their investments. There will be many who will say "I don't believe the average person will be hurt if we do not act." I refuse to take that chance. Today we do what we truly believe must be done. But believe me, we must and we will tighten the screws on Wall Street. This bill will support the idea that we must get rid of these outrageous compensation packages for CEOs and executives. We must prosecute those who violate the law and ignore their responsibilities.

Today I vote "yes," but there is much more to be done. We must never again allow the risk to our economy that's been created by greed to ever occur again.