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As Congress rushes to pass a bailout package for Wall Street firms embroiled in the debt and credit crisis, I asked a series of questions about the proposal.

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As Congress rushes to pass a bailout package for Wall Street firms embroiled in the debt and credit crisis, I asked a series of questions about the proposal.

There should be no doubt that I can support a responsible package that keeps the American economy from imploding. That said, I have a series of questions that I would like to pose to the public and my colleagues.

When a person falls on hard times and needs food stamps, we are told they lack personal responsibility. When the biggest firms on Wall Street make outrageously risky investments, and fall on hard times, why are they not held personally responsible? Why do I have a feeling no one will go to jail for this scheme even though it could cost the taxpayers far more than any financial crisis in history?

When a government in Latin America nationalizes a corporation because it’s not serving the poor, we are told it is ‘banana-republic socialism.’ Why is it that when we nationalize a whole sector of our economy because the rich are affected, it is a must-do action to save Wall Street, our national economy and capitalism itself?  

When President Bush tells us we must pass the bill exactly as he proposed it right away or face a catastrophic event, why do I feel like I’m voting on whether to go into Iraq all over again, and worry that the results will be similarly bad?

Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that when the next President goes to increase spending on worthy social programs, or to help the middle and lower classes struggling in a bad economy, we’ll be told that ‘we can’t afford it’ because we have to pay the debt we ran up for this bailout?

Why did several members of my community who work hard and pay their bills come to me and say; ‘Mr. Serrano, we hear about this bailout package for Wall Street, and we have to know, who’s going to bail us out? Don’t they deserve a fair shake from the government too?

Our economy is in crisis, but that does not mean we have to act without asking questions. It is our responsibility to ask these questions and more. And we must take a long hard look at the unspoken message we are sending when we pass this package and realize that many people will have tough questions like these.

Serrano is Chairman of the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee, which oversees the budget of the Treasury Department, among other agencies.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Rep Jose Serrano on Tue Sep 23, 2008 at 05:46 AM PDT.

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