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Nader Warns Against Mammoth Bailout

Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 12:00:00 AM

Press Release
Contact: Toby Heaps, 202-441-6795,

Ralph Nader to Congress: Put the Brakes on "Carte Blanche" Bailout:

"Haste Makes Waste" with Goliath of Panic Legislation."

"Taxpayers are being asked to foot the bill for corporate malfeasance."

Independent presidential candidate and longtime consumer advocate Ralph Nader said today that he opposes giving Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson -- heralded as King Henry on the cover of Newsweek -- what amounts to a blank check for $700 billion with nothing more than a promise to keep the U.S. financial system from imploding. Nader said that any bailout should have strict accountability, conflict-of-interest, regulatory, and oversight rules attached, including a cap on executive compensation and stock warrants for the rescuing taxpayers.

Ralph Nader, whose vigilance for consumers dates back to 1965, issued the following statement this afternoon, urging Congress to slow down, "Haste makes waste."

"Over the years, every time Congress acted in haste, it was an unsuccessful boondoggle, from the $3 billion synthetic fuels legislation of 1980 to the 2002 Iraq War Resolution.

"The proposed $700 billion blank check is the Goliath of domestic panic legislation.

"It's a triple whammy on the American people as taxpayers, consumers and workers.

"Without public hearings, without civil justice safeguards, accountability and Congressional oversight, without comprehensive regulation and shareholder governance, this three-page bill could be the mother of terrible unintended consequences. For example, what if it is the wrong kind of bailout?

"Of all the insults Bush's monarchy has ever hurled at Congress, a supposedly co-equal branch of government, this one breaks new ground in shattering the bedrock principle of separation of powers and checks and balances under our Constitution and replacing it with blanket Congressional surrender of its authority to Bush's White House.

"Rather than race home to run for re-election, members of Congress should do what they were sent to Washington to do: carefully draft the legislation that will serve the needs of Main Street and Elm Street, not the greed, fraud and recklessness of Wall Street.

Nader also calls for changes to the bill that would include:

"Why should the American taxpayers bail-out fraud, recklessness and criminal irresponsibility?" asks Nader. "Why should the American people trust the judgment of the very administration that has gotten us into this mess?"

Nader expressed strong agreement with William Greider of The Nation who recently wrote that "If Wall Street gets away with this, it will represent an historic swindle of the American public -- all sugar for the villains, lasting pain and damage for the victims."

Nader objects strongly to the language of the bill itself. The draft is very brief, broad, vague and overreaching, granting authority to Secretary Paulson with no oversight, says Nader. [http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/21/business/21draftcnd.html] He highlights Section 8. Review which dictatorially states: "Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency."

"This recklessly empowers a government appointee with no accountability. It's clear that till the bitter end, the Bush/Cheney approach to government is one of unconstitutional over-reach, coercion, secrecy and zero accountability, with corporate comfort first, and the best interests of the American people last, says Nader.

Something has to be done, says Nader, but not in secrecy and not without a Constitutional brace of protections for the American people added to the bill, including appropriate sunset provisions.

"In what would be the biggest bailout in history, the Bush/Cheney operation is using the same kind of threatening language they used to gin up support for wiretapping, the Patriot Act, and their pre-planned war against Iraq. They are attempting to cynically manipulate the American people, stirring up fears in a time of economic crisis, essentially extorting taxpayer funds to stave off a Second Great Depression that they largely helped create and perpetuate.

"Enron and IAG are the bookends of the Bush/Cheney reign of economic and social corruption and neglect," says Nader. But he adds that the problems can be traced even farther back to the 1970s, a period of deregulation that was further spurred by Reagan era "trickle-down economics."

"Consumer groups from around the nation are in an uproar over this example of socialized welfare for corporate greed," says Nader. "Neither of the two corporate-backed parties, which have sold the snake-oil of deregulation for decades, have the legitimacy, courage or record to handle this crisis or stand up to this mega-bullying. The American people, Nader said, must speak loudly to their representative in Congress to stop them from caving to the blank-check demand of "King Henry" and the Bush/Cheney dictatorial regime.

For more information or to arrange an interview with Mr. Nader, please contact Toby Heaps at 202-441-6795, toby@votenader.org.

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