Bottom Line: McCain and the Bailout

George explains what's at stake for John McCain in the bailout debate.

Sept. 23, 2008— -- Before one of the two men running for president inherits the nation's economic mess from President Bush, they'll have to cast a vote on whether a congressional plan to provide $700 billion in bailout money for Wall Street makes sense.

Both Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., are holding their cards close. But it is McCain who may ultimately hold the fate of the proposal in his hands.

Top congressional Republicans say if McCain does not support the bill, it will likely die, putting McCain in a difficult political position.

ABC's Chief Washington Correspondent George Stephanopoulos talked with "World News" anchor Charlie Gibson Tuesday about the bill.

CHARLES GIBSON: And our chief Washington Correspondent, George Stephanopoulos, joins me now. So (this $700 billion agreement between Democrats and Republicans) really rests on McCain's shoulders?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: And it's not a free vote for him, Charlie. Everything I've heard today backs up (others are reporting) that if (McCain), that he goes no, this package would likely fail, and then he would bare the consequences for that. That is a huge political gamble. Which is why the administration is betting that, in the end, McCain will be for this package. But McCain's aides say he has not made up his mind, and one (aide) told me that McCain is determined to, quote, "be the champion of the little guy here."

GIBSON: All right. Well, he and others have said that there's got to be conditions on this bill in order to get their vote. What are the conditions and can they be met?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, there's a consensus emerging, I think, on Capitol Hill that would likely meet the conditions set -- or come close to meeting the conditions -- set by both Obama and McCain. Everyone agrees now that there will have to be some sort of oversight of this whole package -- of this whole proposal. There will have to be some kind of constraint on executive compensation. (And also, that) the taxpayers are going to have to get some buy-in and be able to profit from it, if it actually makes money. And then finally, there will have to be some sort of foreclosure relief. Democrats and Republicans, alike, agree that these conditions have to be met in some form for this bill to pass.

GIBSON: ... (W)ill Congress, in the end, come down and agree to this? How confident is the administration that they're going to get something and will they get it relatively quickly?

STEPHANOPOULOS: They think they're going to get it done. They hope they're going to get it done by this weekend, but I think the big fear right now, Charlie, is that it's going to take another big scare in the stock market to convince Congress to pass this, (something like) beyond another 500-point drop (in the Stock Market).

GIBSON: All right. George Stephanopoulos down in Washington. Thanks to you.