U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson on Tuesday urged Congress to approve his US$700-billion debt bailout plan to end the financial crisis and warned ofsevere consequences if it fails.
"We must do so in order to avoid a continuing series of financial institution failures and frozen credit markets that threaten American families' financial well-being, the viability ofbusinesses both small and large, and the very health of our economy," Paulson said when testifying before the Senate Banking Committee.
"The market turmoil we are experiencing today poses great risk to U.S. taxpayers," he said, warning that when the financial system doesn't work as it should, Americans' personal savings, andthe ability of consumers and businesses to finance spending, investment and job creation are threatened.
He stressed he was convinced that this bold approach will cost American families far less than the alternative, a continuing series of financial institution failures and frozen credit marketsunable to fund everyday needs and economic expansion.
"Today we face a much more challenging situation that requires bipartisan discipline and urgency," said the Treasury chief, adding " We must have that critical debate, but we must get through this period first."
The rescue plan, part of the government's largest financial bailout since the Great Depression, would give the administration broad power to buy the bad debt of any U.S. financial institutionsfor the next two years.
It also would raise the statutory limit on the national debt from US$10.6 trillion to US$11.3 trillion in order to make room for the massive rescue.
Some lawmakers insisted that government should get a stake in the companies helped by the unprecedented rescue.
"We all recognize the gravity of the situation," said Senator Chris Dodd, the committee's chairman. He said a combination of private greed and public regulatory neglect had produced an "economic Maelstrom."
Earlier Tuesday, in a speech to the annual UN General Assembly in New York, U.S. President George W. Bush said he was confident the Congress will approve the bailout plan quickly.
(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2008)