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Senate set to vote on new bailout package

By Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
October 01, 2008 17:59 IST
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The US administration's $700 billion bailout package, which was rejected by House of Representative on Monday, has been modified and will come up for voting in the Senate today, after incorporating tax cuts and a higher limit for insured bank deposits.

Along with proposed tax cuts for businesses, the modified bailout plan includes raising the federal deposit insurance levels to $250,000 from the current $100,000.

The proposal for increasing the deposit insurance limits has the backing of presidential candidates and many American law makers.

The finer aspects of the Senate legislation is also looking at ways to prevent the more than 20 million middle class taxpayers from feeling the pinch of the alternative minimum tax.

After the bailout package was defeated in the House of Representatives, Bush administration and congressional leaders have been looking at ways to mollify dissenters, especially from the Republican fold.

The various alternatives being considered include modifying the current requirements on how banks and financial institutions adjust the value of assets to reflect current market prices.

With barely five weeks to go for the Nov 4 showdown, the bailout package has become a major election issue even as White House hopefuls -- Obama and McCain -- have called for the need to put aside partisan politics.

"The first thing I would do is say, Let's not call it a bailout. Let's call it a rescue," McCain told CNN.

He said, "Americans are frightened right now", and the Arizona Republican maintained and argued that political leaders must give them an immediate solution and a longer-term approach to the problem.

Meanwhile, Obama has issued a statement saying that increasing the federal deposit insurance would help small businesses and make the US banking system more secure, besides restoring public confidence.

The Bush administration is frantically looking at ways in which the rude shocks of the last few days could be minimised, essentially making the point that continuing losses in Wall Street of close to trillion dollars or more can not be sustained by the economy.

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Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
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