Friday, September 26, 2008

Bailout stirs fear, uncertainty, skepticism and opposition in some rural areas

As Congress debates the proposed $700 billion bailout of Wall Street, many in smaller communities are left to figure out what the bailout will mean for them.

For many, economic uncertainty weighs heavily. "How much of Main Street will be in the Wall Street bailout? ... We don't know the end game," said Jason Bailey, research and policy director at the non-profit Mountain Association for Community Economic Development in Berea, Ky, told Mary Meehan of the Lexington [Ky.] Herald-Leader. He says that the bailout will result in less money for non-profit groups serve small communities.

Others question why Washington waited so long to intervene. “Why and how did we let it get so bad?” Peggy Vinson of Batesville, Miss. (pop. 7,000) asked Bob Greene of CNN. “Everyone knew it was coming; as a teacher of economics at a high school in Mississippi, I saw it coming. So they knew it was coming, and they let it happen."

Many focus their ire on Wall Street executives. “If there is a bailout, then the compensation of the key executives at those companies should be taken down to zero. The bailout money shouldn’t go to any of them, that’s for sure,” Vinson's husband, Jim told Greene. "I’ll tell you what would happen if the place where I work found itself in the same situation– I’d be out and they’d be looking for a new CFO.” (Read more)

One Kentucky representative says his constituents are letting their opinions be known. Meehan writes, "U.S. Rep. Ben Chandler, D-Versailles, said he's skeptical about the bailout plan. 'And the citizens I represent are even more skeptical,' he said. He's received more than 400 calls from constituents opposing the bailout. Only six have called in support." (Read more)

Some skeptics have compared the administration's push to invade Iraq. Kevin Hall of McClatchy Newspapers, which in its earlier incarnation as the Knight-Ridder News Service did some of the best reporting that questioned the Iraq run-up, reports that "Many of the nation's brightest economic minds are warning that the Wall Street bailout's a dangerous rush job." (Read more) For help for covering the story, from Al Tompkins of the Poynter Institute, click here.

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