Read the complete transcript.
On Monday, over the course of a few hours, the failure to pass the economic rescue plan in the House led to the single largest decline of the stock market in two decades. Over one trillion dollars of wealth was lost by the time the markets closed. And it wasn’t just the wealth of a few CEOs or Wall Street executives. The 401Ks and retirement accounts that millions count on for their family’s future are now smaller. The state pension funds of teachers and government employees lost billions upon billions of dollars. Hardworking Americans who invested their nest egg to watch it grow are now watching it disappear.
But while the decline of the stock market is devastating, the consequences of the credit crisis that caused it will be even worse if we do not act and act immediately.
Because of the housing crisis, we are now in a very dangerous situation where financial institutions across this country are afraid to lend money. If all that meant was the failure of a few big banks on Wall Street, it would be one thing.
But that’s not what it means. What it means is that if we do not act, it will be harder for you to get a mortgage for your home or the loans you need to buy a car or send your children to college. What it means is that businesses won’t be able to get the loans they need to open new factories, or hire more workers, or make payroll for the workers they have. Thousands of businesses could close. Millions of jobs could be lost. A long and painful recession could follow.
Let me be perfectly clear. The fact that we are in this mess is an outrage. It’s an outrage because we did not get here by accident. This was not a normal part of the business cycle. This was not the actions of a few bad apples.
This financial crisis is a direct result of the greed and irresponsibility that has dominated Washington and Wall Street for years. It’s the result of speculators who gamed the system, regulators who looked the other way, and lobbyists who bought their way into our government. It’s the result of an economic philosophy that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else; a philosophy that views even the most common-sense regulations as unwise and unnecessary. And this crisis is the final verdict on this failed philosophy – a philosophy that we cannot afford to continue.
But while there is plenty of blame to go around and many in Washington and on Wall Street who deserve it, all of us now have a responsibility to solve this crisis because it affects the financial well-being of every single American. There will be time to punish those who set this fire, but now is the moment for us to come together and put the fire out.
I know that many of you are feeling anxiety right now – about your jobs, about your homes, about your life savings. But I also know this – I know that we can steer ourselves out of this crisis. Because that’s who we are. Because this is the United States of America. This is a nation that has faced down war and depression; great challenges and great threats. And at each and every moment, we have risen to meet these challenges – not as Democrats, not as Republicans, but as Americans. With resolve. With confidence. With that fundamental belief that here in America, our destiny is not written for us, but by us. That’s who we are, and that’s the country we need to be right now.