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.
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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.

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