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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 26, 2008 at 10:45 AM

$700 billion bailout (two opposing views)

Regulation a must

Whether it is the savings-and-loan scandal of the 1980s, Enron in 2001 or the current mortgage crisis, the common thread to all of them is the deregulation of safeguards for American consumers pushed for by successive Republican administrations [“Bail package fiercely attacked on Hill,” page one, Sept. 24].

The taxpayer bailout of the 1980s savings-and-loan debacle totaled $124 billion; the Enron scandal cost ratepayers untotaled billions in higher energy costs; and the current $700 billion mortgage bailout, on top of the huge deficits caused by the Iraq war, will literally push the nation’s deficit to near bankruptcy levels. Following each of these scandals, the economy was pushed into recession, costing tens of thousands of middle-class Americans their jobs.

From the New Deal until the 1980s, no such grand financial-and-political-corruption scandals took place on either party’s watch thanks, in part, to regulations adopted in the 1930s to prevent such corruption.

The Reagan-Bush-Gingrich counterrevolution followed by the current Bush-Cheney-Rove administration have severely undermined those protections and ushered in an era of policy by campaign check. The current crisis can be traced directly to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, led by then Sen. Phil Gramm.

Business corrupts politics — unfettered capitalism cannot be trusted simply to the capitalists. Without government safeguards, the public trust and the public treasury are always at grave risk. The architect of the current collapse of the financial system is now the chief economic adviser to Sen. John McCain. Another Republican administration will likely push us into a new great depression.

In the coming months, the storm surge of this economic Katrina will flood the country with massive layoffs. It is time for middle-class families to put on whatever life jackets they can find, because the lifeboats are being filled by the wealthy CEOs.

— Michael O’Leary, Seattle

Voice opposition to bailout bill, Times

I urge the Times editorial board to voice opposition to a blank-check bailout of Wall Street. Tell your readers and representatives that we “the taxpaying people” should not be left holding Wall Street’s bag of bad mortgages.

The debts’ ownership and risk should remain with those who made or purchased it. I do not want to purchase bundles of bad loans.

A less risky solution might be for taxpayers to underwrite loan restructuring for borrowers. And, if a borrower is not able to make reduced payments, taxpayers might cover the short sale of a property.

Should it — and I pray not — come to taxpayers buying bad loans, the plan must have intelligent (not rash) consideration, oversight, fair pricing and equity for the taxpayers.

I shudder to see the House and Senate move urgently. The last time that happened, we started a war. I think, on this one, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is right. Listen to him. Let’s not hand over our financial reins to a group that has been wrong for the past eight years.

— Victoria Martinsen, Seattle

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