President Bush Makes New Plea for Congress to Pass Economic Rescue

President Bush warned Congress today that the country's economy was at a "very critical moment" and that failure to quickly pass a Wall Street bailout would create "painful and lasting" economic hardship.

It was the second time in two days that Bush made appearances before the Wall Street markets opened to assure business leaders the government was urgently trying to fashion a rescue plan.

A picture of President Bush.Play
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Today's appearance came a day after Congress shocked the Bush administration and Wall Street by rejecting a $700 billion bailout, and traders -- as well as much of the nation and leaders around the world -- held their breath to see what drama today's markets would bring.

Bush said he wanted to assure "our citizens and citizens around the world that this is not the end of the legislative process."

The president called this week "a very critical moment for our economy," and he pointed out to Congress that Monday's stock plunge had cost Americans more than $1 trillion.

"I recognize this is a difficult vote for members of Congress," Bush said. "We're in an urgent situation and consequences will grow worse each day we do not act."

Speaking forcefully, he said the failure to approve a rescue plan includes the specter of causing damage to the economy that would be "painful and lasting," and brings "the real prospect of economic hardship for many Americans."

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Congress was in recess today, a day after its no vote triggered a historic 777-point plunge in the Dow Jones industrial average. Congress isn't due back to work until Thursday, after the Jewish new year of Rosh Hashana.

Much of the angry finger-pointing that erupted immediately after the stunning vote had subsided and was replaced by cautious statements of cooperation between Republicans and Democrats.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., both voted against the bailout, but told "Good Morning America" that they are ready to work together to fashion a better deal.

Kaptur said she was not going to approve a measure that "rewarded bad behavior and give all these bills to the American taxpayer."

"And frankly, for Wall Street, I would say, calm down. Don't panic. Don't be led to anxious behavior," Kaptur told "GMA."

Musgrave said the bill will get fixed. "We're coming back to work on Thursday and we're coming to craft a good bill."

Europeans Urge Congress to Use 'Statesmanship'

While the bailout is deeply unpopular among voters, most fear that Monday's congressional rejection could make the economy worse.

In a Washington Post/ABC News poll released today, 88 percent of registered voters say they're concerned the action in Congress could worsen an economic downturn.

Nevertheless, America is not completely convinced that the Wall Street meltdown is a matter of urgency. Barely more than half are ready to call the situation a "crisis," according to the survey.

While Americans aren't sure of the seriousness of the situation, shock waves from the congressional rebuff and the market's plunge were felt around the world.

The governments of Belgium, France and Luxembourg joined together for a $9.2 billion rescue of Dexia bank today, the latest in a series of rapid-fire European bank rescues in the last few days.

The buffeting felt overseas prompted scoldings from foreign economic leaders.

"The United States must take its responsibility in this situation, must show statesmanship for the sake of their own country, and for the sake of the world," EU Commission spokesman Johannes Laitenberger said.

Laitenberger added that America's economic problem "has become a global problem. The United States have a special responsibility in this situation."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel chided Congress, saying that the quick passage of a rescue package is "the precondition for creating new confidence on the markets -- and that is of incredibly great significance."

"This is a bad development," Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said and he urged U.S. lawmakers to urgently return to negotiations to come up with a deal that will prevent further infection of world markets.

Most of the maneuvering will be behind closed doors for the next day or so, but Barack Obama and John McCain weighed in on the crisis by proposing separately that the bill could win additional support if the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was given broader powers to insure savings.

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The FDIC, established during the Great Depression, currently insures deposits up to $100,000. The Democratic presidential candidate suggested that ceiling be raised to $250,000.

The Obama campaign said it's a "step that would boost small businesses, make our banking system more secure and help restore public confidence in our financial system."

But not all of the blame dealing has evaporated.

The Republican National Committee launched a new ad today that claimed the Illinois senator was making the bailout even more expensive.

"Under Barack Obama's plan, the government would spend a trillion dollars more, even after the bailout," the ad claims.

"New taxes, new spending, new debt. Barack Obama's plan -- it'll make the problem worse," the ad concludes.

Obama's campaign also put out a new ad stating that McCain wants to follow Bush's economic plan.

Top White House and congressional leaders are trying to figure out what to do next.

"Right now they're trying to figure out if there are one or two small changes, relatively small changes they could make to the legislation that would pass it through the House," said ABC News chief Washington correspondent George Stephanopoulos. "The idea that has gotten the most currency in the last 24 hours, through my talks with administration officials, the White House and Congress, is to extend the deposit insurance to more accounts."

"They believe this could be the one idea that could get you the 10 or 12 votes that you need right now," Stephanopoulos said. "But it's very uncertain territory."

He suggested that Bush, with his low popularity ratings, no longer has the oomph to push Congress to support his proposal.

"The power is in Wall Street right now," Stephanopoulos said. "I think where you probably have the most power is a tremendous drop-off on Wall Street in the market. That would create more pressure on members of Congress to pass this thing."