Not If, But When and How Re: Financial Bailout Legislation Passes

Published on: 06:59AM Sep 23, 2008

By Jim Wiesemeyer
via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.

Changes pushed for $700 billion package

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Congressional Democrats have now taken a go-slower approach to Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's expedited $700 billion financial system bailout language by pushing for several important changes to the package. A final package is expected by the end of next week – if Congress needs another week to finish the task.

Changes proposed. Democratic members and some Republicans want more oversight, as well as executive compensation constraints for those companies getting assistance, language that would aid mortgage holders faced with bankruptcy, and perhaps leverage to pass a $50 billion stimulus package and other measures. Democrats want to require companies that unload their bad debt on the government to provide warrants to get equity in the companies at a later date if they prosper. Paulson has warned that making the program too punitive could dissuade companies from participating, but Democrats are unconvinced of that argument.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) released language on Monday eliminating provisions in the bill to limit judicial review.

A split approach? The Wall Street Journal reported that there has been discussion among some Democratic leaders of breaking apart the package, with swift initial action on about a third of the borrowing authority, a senior congressional official said. Approval of the balance of the funding would come later this year or early next year, giving lawmakers a chance to assess the success of the bailout and consider additional long-term overhauls.

Top players to speak today. Today, Paulson, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, Securities and Exchange Chairman Christopher Cox and Federal Housing Finance Agency Director James Lockhart will appear at a hearing.

Meanwhile, during an address today to the United Nations, President George Bush will discuss the crisis facing the international economy, according to a White House official.

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