(2 of 2)
"If I ask, Should we bail out Wall Street?, you won't get 1 in 50 of my constituents to say yes," says Pete Stark, the Democratic Congressman from the Fremont area. "They don't want their tax money to pay for this." And so he voted against the measure. "Fremont has one of the highest foreclosure rates in California, and unemployment is high. I think their feeling is, Why should you be bailing out Wall Street when we know people who can't afford junior college tuition? They see the Wall Street giants as extremely rich people very different from them." Stark evinces no panic when told the markets may tumble further. "The sky isn't falling," he says.
"It's the water-cooler conversation pretty much everywhere you go," says Bruce Cosgrove, head of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce (local Congressman John Doolittle voted against the bill). "We're all talking about this right now. [But] we are at the mercy of Congress. In the end, we have to hope they get it right, and that's where the uncertainty fits back in again."
In St. Helena, farther north in the state, Dave Smith, who owns a business that makes electronic musical instruments, says, "I just want them to come up with something that's more reasonable and more fair and that still might help. Unfair would be the biggest one-word comment. No one is going to help me if I have problems with my company. Especially considering the huge amounts of money these companies were paying themselves, it's really obscene." Another St. Helena resident, Paul Tuttle, a registered Republican, peppered his Representative, Democrat Mike Thompson, with anti-bailout e-mail. "I think it was bad legislation," says Tuttle. "You're socializing risk. It's like creating the U.S.S.R. under the U.S. flag." Thompson voted against the measure. Says Tuttle: "We have a perfectly valid branch, the FDIC, there to take care of problem banks. Let them close the bad banks, sell the branches and go through a process we already have in place." By Kristin Kloberdanz / Modesto
Eleven of the state's 13 Representatives voted against the bailout on Monday decisions that may have had added impetus thanks to Georgia's recent gas shortages. Representative Hank Johnson, a Democrat, says locals have been waiting in long lines for gas and paying big prices to fill up, which could be "partially responsible for people's desire not to bail out Wall Street." An editorial in Tuesday's Marietta Daily Journal gave a thumbs-up to the thumbs-down on the bailout, calling it the "right move from a long-term perspective, but what it means for the shaky economy in the short term is anybody's guess."
There is anxiety, of course. And that has fueled some support for a bailout or a "buy-in or rescue," as Jesse Stone, a bankruptcy attorney and chairman of the Burke County Republican Committee, calls it. "I hate that it has to be done, but I don't know of any other alternative. I'm just afraid that credit will dry up and the markets will plunge further. My whole retirement is based on what I have invested, and that could be wiped out." (Stone's Representative, a Democrat, did not support the bill in Congress.)
Some locals point their finger at Republicans for bringing the country to the brink. "I have to believe that if nothing has happened by Thursday, the market will tank," says Phil Solari, a Marietta resident and registered Democrat. Republicans, he says, "created this mess, and they're now incapable of getting their own people behind the President to vote for this bill. They either didn't understand what it meant to the average person on the street or they didn't care." By Paige Bowers / Atlanta
Sherrill Freeborough owns two Saturn dealerships outside Lansing. She was nervous about the proposed bailout and relieved when it failed. "My fear was they didn't have time to study it," she says. "I wanted them to make sure they knew what they were doing, and that it was the right thing to do. My fear was this was too quickly put together. I was surprised and relieved when it didn't pass." Freeborough says she's a "little more confident today that Congress will do the right thing. Now, I feel like they're going to take the time to see if this is really going to work, if this is the best option out there."
As a small-business owner, Freeborough has already felt the pinch of a tightened credit market. She'd like to expand her service department from four bays to 10. But her lender was a tad leery a few months ago about extending her credit. "I had so much else going on at that time, I held off," she says. "Now I'm thinking I should have just done it then. I am worried I won't be able to get a loan for it, and that will pull my business back." She says that even if car sales slump further, people still need to maintain the cars they already have. "I'm just starting the process of getting a medium-sized loan, and I'm concerned I won't be able to find the money," she says.
The worst for small businesses is the freezing of credit markets, says Pat Convery, president of the Howell Area Chamber of Commerce. "There's a lot of angst and confusion," she says. "People are almost afraid to turn on the radio or TV. No one knows what's coming next." By Maggie Sieger / Grand Rapids
Joyce Carle, 65, of Des Moines retired from the U.S. Postal Service after 25 years. But when the Paulson proposal came up, she immediately wrote a letter to the local paper to voice her opposition. "A $700 billion bailout I feel is going to my grandchildren. They're going to inherit that. I don't think it's going to solve the problem. It may fix it for a while. I don't trust the government to do what they say they're going to do." She says, "I'm no genius [but] it's basically a mortgage crisis, [so] work with the homeowners and renegotiate their loans and work out something where they can make out the payments to the people who have the paper on their loans."
Still, the market collapse on the same day that the vote came down concerned her. "I've got money in the market, and I don't want to lose my money. [My husband and I are] retired, and I really don't want to go back to work but if I lose all my retirement funds on Wall Street, I will probably have to. I put in a lot of good years working and I paid my dues, and I want to stay retired." She says she's hoping the market "will bounce back if they come up with a plan that people see will work." But, she also says, "I'm not sure I trust what they're saying." By Betsy Rubiner / Des Moines