OUR ECONOMY RUNS ON CREDIT, and underlying that credit is trust. Both the credit and the trust is running out. Essentially what we are doing here in an intangible way is restoring trust and confidence in a very tangible way: helping to restore credit. Banks will refuse to lend to businesses and even to one another. Investors continue to withdraw into the safest investments, treasury bills, even cash. Tens of thousands of jobs in New York have been lost and a study this morning projected that New York alone would lose at least 120,000 jobs.
Now I think we are here in some respects because we failed to tackle a home mortgage crisis, and now we are facing a market crisis. If we fail to tackle the market crisis, we risk an even deeper economic crisis. I don’t think any of us want to see irresponsibility on Wall Street compounded by ineffectiveness in Washington. That’s why we must act, even as we do so with regret and reservations, because we have little choice.
The proposal we are considering is far from perfect, but it is a far cry from the original plan sent over by the Treasury Department that installed virtually unlimited powers in the hands of the Treasury Secretary. As I said when we first examined that original three-page proposal, we needed a plan that included checks and balances, not a blank check.
And thanks to the leadership here in the Senate and in the House, we have negotiated through the Congress, on a bipartisan basis, a better alternative that installs taxpayer protections, asserts oversight, and maintains greater accountability. As is the case very often in effective compromises, no one is happy. But we cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or in this case, the enemy of what’s necessary. But as we vote for this proposal tonight, we must do so considering what steps we will take next.
This speech was given on the Senate floor in the ours leading up to the vote. Read the entire speech.