Sen. John Kerry held a press conference this afternoon to outline the urgency of passing comprehensive economic legislation to avoid the collapse of Wall Street from hitting families and business across the country.
Below is Kerry's statement as prepared for delivery:
"This has been a volatile time for our financial system and our economy. But, I strongly believe that the Congress will soon come to an agreement on an economic rescue plan that will help restore strength and stability to America's financial system and overall economy. After the enactment of this plan, along with the recent actions taken by the Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve, our nation will have taken a critical step to address the current challenges to our economy.
"But make no mistake about it, the Congress must come together across party lines to address our economic challenges. We must put our broken politics aside and unite to restore confidence in our capital markets and our financial institutions. Today is a time for action, not for partisanship.
"The legislation that failed in the House of Representatives yesterday was not a bailout for Wall Street. It was developed to stop the ripple effect of the collapse of Wall Street's major financial institutions from developing into an economic Tsunami sweeping across the country. It is an effort to protect businesses and families from a serious credit crunch. The stark reality we face is that without federal assistance, our financial system may collapse. Small businesses would be unable to obtain financing and jobs would vanish. Families would be unable to borrow for new homes or to send their children to college. Retirement funds could plummet. Those are the stakes.
"I support the compromise legislation to provide up to $700 billion to the Secretary of the Treasury to buy mortgages and other assets from financial institutions. It will help restore confidence in our capital markets and our financial institutions. It will help our nation avert serious economic dislocation that could be the cost of inaction. Specifically, the legislation:
- Requires the Treasury to modify the loans they buy to help American families keep their homes and expands federal assistance to families facing foreclosure;
- Includes strong Congressional oversight, establishes a special Inspector General and allows Judicial review of the program;
- Requires companies that take advantage of this program provide warrants so taxpayers will benefit from any future growth of these companies;
- Includes important limitations on executive compensation for those participating in the program;
"In the Senate, I have been working to get at the root of our economic problems helping to ease the foreclosure crisis and increase access to capital for small businesses. I'm pleased that I was able to include provisions in the Housing and Economy Recovery Act that will:
- Help limit foreclosures by providing additional mortgage credit;
- Increase protections from foreclosure for our veterans;
- Provide additional funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, and;
- Create construction jobs and produce affordable housing by establishing the National Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
"A recent federal survey reports that more than 65 percent of banks have significantly tightened their lending standards for small businesses. As Chairman of the Senate Small Business Committee, I have held five hearings about the credit crunch and the Small Business Administration's lending programs over the past two years. I introduced legislation to temporarily eliminate fees and double the loan limits for many Small Business Administration loan programs. This will help stimulate economic growth and job creation by increasing access to capital for small business.
"I urge the Congress to come together to enact legislation to protect our vital national interest in the continued health of our economy."