A tentative deal appears to have been reached on a bailout of the banking system, with the Administration appearing with the Congressional leadership to announce that negotiations had succeeded. With agreement principles in hand the fine print must now be created, and the deal is subject to that final round of approval of the written word. From the Washington Post:
Congressional leaders and the Bush administration this morning said they had struck an accord to insert the government deeply into the nation’s financial markets, agreeing to spend up to $700 billion to relieve Wall Street of troubled assets backed by faltering home mortgages.
House and Senate negotiators from both parties emerged with Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. at 12:30 a.m. from a marathon session in the Capitol to announce that they had reached a tentative agreement on a proposal to give Paulson broad authority to organize one of the biggest government interventions in the private sector since the Great Depression.
While the details are being put to paper the Post is reporting some areas of agreement:
A senior administration official, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the plan, said both sides had made significant concessions to achieve compromise. The Bush administration has agreed to accept a number of Democratic demands, including:
· The money would be dispersed in segments, with Paulson receiving $250 billion immediately, $100 billion upon White House certification of its necessity and the final $350 billion only after Congress has been given 15 days to object.
· Firms participating in the bailout would be required to grant the government warrants to obtain nonvoting shares of stock, so taxpayers can benefit if the companies return to profitability.
Firms taking advantage of the bailout would be required to limit compensation for senior executives, with especially severe limits on “golden parachutes” at failing firms. The compensation limits will be enacted primarily, but not solely, through the tax code by reducing tax deductions for firms that pay executives more than $400,000 a year.
The administration also agreed to Democratic demands that the financial services industry should help pay for the program. Under the agreement, the president would be required to propose a fee on the industry if the government has not recovered its money through sales of the assets within five years.
The Democrats were forced to give as well.
Democrats also made a number of concessions, abandoning demands that bankruptcy judges be empowered to modify home mortgages on primary residences for people in foreclosure. They also agreed not to dedicate a portion of any profits from the bailout program to an affordable housing fund that Republicans claimed would primarily assist social service organizations that support the Democratic Party, the official said.
Meanwhile, House Republicans won a major victory, persuading negotiators to include a provision that would require the Treasury Department to create a federal insurance program that would guarantee banks and other firms against loss from any troubled asset, the official said.
And so as the details are now worked out you have a fundamental re-ordering of the American financial system, and at $700 billion we do not know if it will really work. I hope that it does for everyones sake.