Menendez Speaks On Senate Floor About Economic Rescue Package: 'Doing Nothing Is Not An Option'

Menendez Speaks On Senate Floor About Economic Rescue Package: 'Doing Nothing Is Not An Option'

Washington - As the U.S. Senate prepares to vote on the economic rescue package, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a member of the Senate Banking Committee, spoke in favor of the legislation on the Senate floor this afternoon.

Excerpt of Menendez's remarks:

"As we all know, we're in an economic crisis, and doing nothing is not an option. If we don't get credit flowing again, businesses won't be able to operate, people in our neighborhoods will lose their jobs, and getting a loan for a car, an education or a home will become increasingly difficult, if not impossible. The American Dream itself is facing one of the greatest risks in recent history.

"What we have before us is an economic stabilization plan. It's not perfect. But it will help protect and create jobs by restoring stability and confidence to our economy.

"We've taken the plan the Administration sent us, rejected it and reworked it. George Bush first sent us a plan with no accountability, a plan where the idea of checks and balances was: We write the check, and they fill in the balance. But we've changed that plan, made vast improvements, and put taxpayers first."

Full text of Menendez's remarks, as prepared for delivery:

M. President,

As we all know, we're in an economic crisis, and doing nothing is not an option. If we don't get credit flowing again, businesses won't be able to operate, people in our neighborhoods will lose their jobs, and getting a loan for a car, an education or a home will become increasingly difficult, if not impossible. The American Dream itself is facing one of the greatest risks in recent history.

What we have before us is an economic stabilization plan. It's not perfect. But it will help protect and create jobs, by restoring stability and confidence to our economy.

We've taken the plan the Administration sent us, rejected it and reworked it.

George Bush first sent us a plan with no accountability, a plan where the idea of checks and balances was: We write the check, and they fill in the balance.

But we've changed that plan, made vast improvements, and put taxpayers first.

The plan provides for oversight and accountability, with an oversight board and a special inspector general.

This plan makes sure there's Congressional review and approval for any funding above $350 billion.

In this plan, taxpayers will be treated like investors. If we take on a risk, we will be given warrants-we'll be the equivalent of a shareholder-given a stake in any future profit that might lie ahead for that company.

If we step in during the decline, taxpayers must be allowed to share in the profit.

So the plan is structured to reward taxpayers with profits while protecting them from losses.

This plan says there will be no more golden parachutes. The people who led us into this mess cannot be rewarded for failure.

Besides strengthening our economy's foundation, it creates jobs, provides relief for struggling homeowners and will help small businesses access credit-the small businesses that create 75% of America's jobs.

Tonight's vote also provides tax relief for the middle class, by patching the AMT.

It pushes for loan modifications to help struggling homeowners stay in their homes, and stop property values from falling in our neighborhoods.

And this vote tonight invests in American energy, to drive down gas prices, and create American jobs that can't be outsourced.

This plan isn't perfect-but it is necessary.

We still have a long way to go toward tackling the root of this crisis, which is the housing market. I'd like to see us set the goal of saving at least 1 million families from foreclosure.

And we still have a long way to go to establish a strong regulatory enforcement that I have called for in the past that prevents the kinds of abuses that got us into this situation in the first place.

But again, doing nothing is not an option. Jobs are on the line. People's cars, houses and educations are on the line. And those who would reject this plan tonight out of ideology will be punishing not the CEOs but hundreds of thousands of Americans who will lose their jobs.

M. President,

I'm going to heed the call of Senator Obama. It is time for us to come together and act in the best interests of the country.

Clearly, we're experiencing unprecedented times. I along with some of my colleagues warned many times in the past about the gathering specter that irresponsible lending posed, but were dismissed as alarmists. This is one instance where I wish I had been wrong.

But tonight is not about looking back and pointing fingers. Tonight is about looking forward, and preventing even further damage to our economy, before it really is too late. Tonight is about keeping the American Dream stable enough, so we can make a solid promise for tomorrow. And that's why I will be voting "Yes."

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