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Bush seeks public support for bailout package

By Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
September 25, 2008 10:54 IST
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Expressing concern that the country faced economic ruin if the Congress did not act fast, President George W Bush on Wednesday took his case on the financial bailout packet to the American people.

"The market is not functioning properly. There has been a widespread loss of confidence, and major sectors of country's financial system are at risk of shutting down. The government's top economic experts warn that, without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic," Bush said in a sombre mood in a nationally televised address.

"I'm a strong believer in free enterprise, so my natural instinct is to oppose government intervention. I believe companies that make bad decisions should be allowed to go out of business. Under normal circumstances, I would have followed this course, but these are not normal circumstances," the President warned.

The message by the President is seen as a step to bridge the divide between Republicans and Democrats and perhaps even more so within the Grand Old Party.

The blunt message capped a bizarre day in America - law makers were still at odds over the bailout package, top administration officially frantically trying to convince a skeptical Congress of the urgency of the situation, the Republican nominee Senator John McCain breaking off his campaign and returning to Washington DC and calling on his Democratic rival Senator Barack Obama to delay the debates.

The Illinois Democrat saying that he is willing to sign on to a Joint Statement with Senator McCain on the crisis facing the country but standing his ground that there should be no postponement of the first debate scheduled for tomorrow in Mississippi.

Bush also spoke a few hours after he had invited Senators Obama and McCain and other top Congressional leaders to the White House for an extraordinary meeting at the White House to break the impasse on Capitol Hill on the financial stabilisation package.

But President Bush did not fail to lay out what is in store for Americans if Congress did not act urgently.

"More banks could fail. The stock market would drop even more, which would reduce the value of your retirement account. The value of your home could plummet. Foreclosures would rise dramatically. More businesses would close their doors, and millions of Americans could lose their jobs," he said.

"Even if you have good credit history, it would be more difficult for you to get the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. And, ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession," the President added.

"Fellow citizens, we must not let this happen. I appreciate the work of leaders from both parties in both houses of Congress to address this problem and to make improvements to the proposal my administration sent to them," he said.

"But given the situation we are facing, not passing a bill now would cost these Americans much more later," Bush maintained.

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Sridhar Krishnaswami in Washington
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