U.S. President George Bush is meeting with presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain at the White House today, Thursday to discuss a proposed 700-billion dollar rescue plan for the U.S. financial sector.
The rival presidential candidates have already issued a joint statement
calling the plan "flawed" but also urging bipartisan cooperation to
avoid economic "catastrophe" for the sake of the nation.
Key congressional leaders are also due to attend the White House meeting.
In Wednesday' night's nationally televised address, Mr. Bush urged
lawmakers to pass the massive plan, warning that the U.S. economy faces
a "long and painful" recession without immediate congressional action.
The bailout plan would allow the government to buy devalued assets from
troubled financial firms. Those bad investments have made banks
reluctant to lend money, and the lack of credit threatens to stall the
The president said the stock market would drop more, home values would
plummet, foreclosures would rise dramatically, more businesses would
close and millions of Americans would lose their jobs.
Shortly after the president's speech, Massachusetts Representative
Barney Frank, the chairman of the House Financial Services committee,
said Democratic lawmakers in both chambers have reached a deal on the
measure. They will meet with their Republican counterparts this morning to discuss the plan.
Frank says the bill will include placing limits on compensation for top
executives of investment firms that participate in the plan,
independent oversight of the program, and a provision that would give
the government an equity stake in some of the firms, so taxpayers can
share in any future profits.
The Bush administration's top economic officials faced deep skepticism
and sometimes hostile questions about the proposal during two days of
congressional hearings that began Tuesday. Democrats, along with fiscal
conservative lawmakers from the president's own Republican party, are
worried it would only help big financiers, and expose American
taxpayers to great financial risk.