Bailout Is 'a Necessary Evil,' Area Residents Say

By Donna St. George and Jonathan Mummolo
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, September 29, 2008

Carlos Aulestia, 46, a Rockville toy store owner angry that the economic crisis has brought his business its slowest weeks ever, was hoping yesterday that the proposed bailout plan would end the downturn.

Aleena Hampton, 61, a retired federal employee in Alexandria, was wary that the massive rescue package was only a "Band-Aid" solution but acknowledged that the government needs "to do something."

Jim Dinegar, president of the Greater Washington Board of Trade, described a wave of relief among the mid-size and large businesses his organization represents in the region. "The nation dodged a bullet," he said. "This is as serious as it gets."

As leaders in Congress yesterday released the details of a proposed $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, the issue weighed on the minds of people across the Washington region. They voiced a range of emotions: anger, apprehension, relief, hope and doubt.

Some had worries about financial fallout in their own lives. Others were concerned about issues of government oversight and the size of the cost involved. They wanted to know exactly why the crisis happened and whether the bailout is a long-term fix.

As Dan Jeffers, 51, of the District said, the $700 billion price tag "doesn't seem comprehensible to me. Theoretically, most of it should be paid back, right?"

Matt Johnson, 23, of Capitol Hill said he recognizes that the bailout is needed but that "in general, I'm just dumbfounded that some of the smartest people in this country, working at some of the biggest banks, have screwed the economy over."

As details were posted online yesterday, some people focused on the provisions of the accord between the Bush administration and congressional leaders, one of the largest government interventions in the private sector since the Great Depression.

Others were still angry over the financial collapse that led to such a drastic measure.

Richard Fleet, 60, a retired utility company supervisor from Brandywine, said a government bailout is the "wrong method" of addressing the problem. "They put themselves in the hole, they should get themselves out," he said. "Greed got them where they are, anyway."

Leaving church services yesterday in the District, Carl Bennett, 76, expressed a widespread view that the bailout should not leave any corporate executives with golden parachutes or other compensation for missteps that have taken the economy to such a perilous ledge.

"Seeing what we have come to, I see it as we really have no other choice," said Bennett, a retired teacher who lives in Clinton and said the issue is all the talk within his civic association and at his union meetings. He finds himself "disappointed that we would allow ourselves to get to this point. . . . Someone must've seen it, but no one has acknowledged it."

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