President George W. Bush made a televised statement this morning on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act — the bailout of Wall Street, designed to give House Republicans a push before Congress votes on this bill today. For the first time, Bush used strong language to assuage fears over exposure for taxpayer dollars. “This bill commits up to 700 billion taxpayer dollars, because a large amount of money is necessary to have an impact on our financial system. However, both the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office and the Office of Management and Budget expect that the ultimate cost to the taxpayer will be far less than that. In fact, we expect that over time, much — if not all — of the tax dollars we invest will be paid back,” Bush said.
Bush called the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act “a bold bill that would help keep the crisis in our financial system from spreading throughout our economy.”
With an eye on the U.S. market open this morning, Bush said, “This plan sends a strong signal to markets around the world that the United States is serious about restoring confidence and stability to our financial system.”
The president’s prepared remarks lasted approximately four minutes. Bush praised Secretary Henry Paulson and Congressional leadership “on both sides of the aisle" for their bi-partisan effort for this bill. The Democrat leadership in Congress refused to bring this bailout bill to the floor without assurances of substantial Republican votes.
In a highly unusual move, Congress convened at 8:00 a.m. to begin what is expected to be a hotly-contested debate before a vote on passage of this bill today.
Transcript of the President’s remarks can be found here.