Monday, April 20, 2009

Citizens to Own Shares of Rescued Wall Street Companies

“WASHINGTON — President Obama’s top economic advisers have determined that they can shore up the nation’s banking system without having to ask Congress for more money any time soon, according to administration officials.

“In a significant shift, White House and Treasury Department officials now say they can stretch what is left of the $700 billion financial bailout fund further than they had expected a few months ago, simply by converting the government’s existing loans to the nation’s 19 biggest banks into common stock.

“Converting those loans to common shares would turn the federal aid into available capital for a bank — and give the government a large ownership stake in return.

“While the option appears to be a quick and easy way to avoid a confrontation with Congressional leaders wary of putting more money into the banks, some critics would consider it a back door to nationalization, since the government could become the largest shareholder in several banks.”
Edmund L. Andrews,
“U.S. May Convert Banks’ Bailouts to Equity Share,”
The New York Times, April 19, 2009

Republicans Are Predictably Outraged at this potential to “nationalize” American banks and turn America into “a socialist state.” But think about this:

If Republicans Would Pull Their Heads out of Their Ideology, and turn their thoughts toward constructive solutions—instead of always shouting out, “Just Say No!—just think what we could achieve.

Take This Proposal For Example:

The American Shareholder Plan

Now That President Obama’s Top Economic Advisors
have begun turning taxpayer TARP loans into shares of common stock, it’s time to take another look at the ASP—the American Shareholder Plan.

(For Our Description of this taxpayer/shareholder proposal, see October 11, 2008:
“ASP: The American Shareholder Plan.”)

Conservative Americans Oppose Nationalization of publicly owned companies: Under the ASP corporate ownership gets taken out of the hands of government, and into the hands of private, American citizens.

Conservatives Oppose the “Moral Hazard”
of rescuing profligate private companies such as A.I.G. and Citigroup. By giving ownership to individual taxpayers, the ASP makes sure that those on Wall Street who got us into the current mess pay the price—through loss of ownership. Thus, moral hazard comes at a real cost.

Liberal Americans Are Angry
at the Investment Banks and Insurance Companies that have put the economy at risk, and countless Americans out of their homes and out of work. The ASP puts shareholder rewards in the pockets of the American taxpayer. Under the ASP, all citizens stand to benefit.

Americans Right and Left Share Concerns about Social Security. Republicans under the administration of President George W. Bush lobbied for private retirement accounts under the Social Security umbrella. The ASP can provide the basis for such private accounts—at no additional cost to the Federal Government and the American taxpayer.

For Once, Wall Street Need Not Benefit Alone from these historic excesses. Those who bear the real cost—the American taxpayers—receive the real benefit, in the form of stock-ownership that accrues toward each American’s retirement and education and health care.

If the American Shareholder Plan
Raises Questions for You, please post a comment below or send an email to:

Otherwise, Please Write Your Senators and Representatives. If you’d really like to own a share of America, let your government officials know.

And If Your Congresspersons Happen to Be Republicans, please let them know about pulling their heads out of their ideology. It's time for the Republican Party to get back to work supporting America.

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