Tester: Government’s bailout plan doesn’t smell right

Says Congress should stay in session as long as it takes to make right decision

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – After grilling some of nation’s most powerful decisionmakers on Capitol Hill, Senator Jon Tester today said he still is not sold on the government’s proposed $700 billion bailout of the financial industry.

Tester also said the situation is too important and too expensive for an artificial deadline, adding that Congress should stay in session as long as it takes to make the right decision.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Christopher Cox said they support the controversial plan during today’s Senate Banking Committee hearing.  The plan would allow the U.S. Treasury to buy up to $700 billion in troubled assets—like bad mortgages—from financial institutions.

“Like most Montanans, I’ve got a heck of a lot of concerns about this,” Tester said after the hearing.  “I want to know that this legislation fixes the root problems, so we’re not doing this year after year.  I want to know that no CEOs are getting big paychecks for running their companies into the ground.  And I want to make sure that Main Street not just Wall Street is helped.”

During today’s hearing, Bernanke said Congress needs to take urgent action to avoid “serious consequences” in the financial industry and the U.S. economy.  Tester was disappointed because the Treasury proposed its complex, controversial $700 billion plan just days ago.

“Wasn’t there some opportunity somewhere down the line where we could have been informed of how serious this crisis was so we can take some preventative steps before we got to this point?” Tester asked Bernanke.  “I’m not sure we’ve got the whole sentence written much less the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed.”

Earlier this month the Treasury risked $85 billion to bail out insurance giant AIG, and the government took over housing lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  The government bailed out investment bank Bear Stearns earlier this year.