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The Baltimore Sun

There could be no better demonstration of the stupidity of the American public and the spinelessness of the politicians we elect than the House of Representatives' rejection of the bailout bill ("Shock Waves," Sept. 30).

The average American just doesn't seem to get it: Without a bailout, credit will dry up; no one will be able to get a car loan or a mortgage. If people can't buy cars or houses, the companies that make cars and build houses will lose money and lay people off. Businesses won't be able to expand and hire more people; in fact, they'll have to lay people off.

Yes, people are rightly angry that corporate fat cats are not going to feel the pain of the financial disaster they have caused. So many voters have told their members of Congress to vote no on the bailout - apparently not understanding or caring that they are thereby shooting themselves in the foot, and probably not doing a thing to punish the high-and-mighty culprits.

Our presidential candidates keep mouthing the word "leadership." But will they dare say what it means? It means not caving in to the American voters when they are being stupid.

Elizabeth Fixsen, Savage

A firestorm of citizen protest led to the House of Representatives' rejecting the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan. No one should be surprised. After being misled on everything from Iraq to global warming to food and workplace safety, the people simply do not trust the Bush administration to act in their interests.

David Prosten, Annapolis

The failure of the Congress to pass the financial bailout package will go down as one of the darkest days in our history and will cause untold suffering for millions in this country and abroad.

It is absolutely unforgivable that partisan rancor and narrow self-interest should result in such a calamity. God help us all.

Marc Raim, Baltimore

House Democrats and Republicans put in many hours of negotiation and compromise to forge a bipartisan agreement on a plan to shore up the economy.

Then, minutes before a final vote was taken, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to take the House floor and spew out a partisan rebuke of President Bush and conservative Republican principles - helping to derail a wobbly consensus agreement and fuel more partisan anger.

If ever there was a moment that called for reaching across party ideology, a moment that called for reason and not rancor, this was it. An insightful leader would have recognized that fact. But instead of persuading members to pull together and do the right thing for the country, Ms. Pelosi cast blame. There is plenty of blame to go around for the financial crisis. But a few minutes before a bipartisan vote is needed to resolve a national crisis is not the time to assign it.

Abraham Lincoln said, "A house divided will not stand." How true. America will not be defeated by a foreign government or terrorists. But we may well sink in the mire of obstinate, short-sighted, us-vs.-them, my-team-wins-at-all-costs politics. We have met the enemy and he is us.

Michael Ziegler, Monkton

I have invested in the free market and did so realizing the opportunities and risks. The current market and lending problems are the result of unscrupulous activities within that market. I have sustained losses as a result of those activities. But I do not want a government "rescue," nor do I want a government "bailout" for the free enterprises that caused this dilemma. If we buy their soiled laundry, they will just go buy some new suits and do it all over again.

Let's leave the government out of this, let the CEOs fall, and the market will come back as a better entity with more integrity.

John R. Allen III, Denton

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