Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made their pitch to congress today, but the proposed $700 billion financial rescue plan was no hit with lawmakers.
Richard Shelby, the senior Republican on the senate banking committee said there were "no credible assurances that this plan will work.
"We could very well spend $700 billion and not resolve the crisis,” the influential Alabama senator said. “Before I sign off on something of this magnitude, I want to know that we have exhausted all reasonable alternatives."
Republican Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky called the plan downright Communist.
“This massive bail-out is not the solution. It is financial socialism, it is un-American," said Bunning.
Republican Sen. Elizabeth Dole, of North Carolina added, “I am very skeptical of this proposal and am extremely frustrated that we find ourselves in this position."
Democrats also had their issues with the plan, and its hasty formulation.
“I understand that speed is important but I am far more interested that we get this right,” said Chris Dodd, the Democratic chairman of the senate banking committee.
He called the proposal “stunning and unprecedented in its scope and lack of detail.”
Asserting that the plan would allow Mr. Paulson to act with “absolute impunity,” Senator Dodd said, “After reading this proposal, I can only conclude that it is not only our economy that is at risk, Mr. Secretary, but our Constitution, as well.”
New York's Senator Chuck Schumer, chairman of the joint economic committee, said “congressional due diligence” would be performed in the next few days.
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio said the sentiment in his state was “universally negative” and he was among the “Ohioans who are angry”.
“Had the federal government acted to contain the epidemic in sub-prime lending, I don’t think we would be sitting here today," Brown said.
In response, Paulson said he, too, was frustrated.
"I’m not only concerned, I’m angry," Paulson said. He blamed an outdated regulatory system for the turmoil and stressed that his plan benefited the American people on Main Street, and not Fat-Cat Wall Streeters.
“This is all about the taxpayers. That is all we are about," he said.