The Bush administration today formally asked Congress to authorize a $700 billion fund, administered by the Treasury Department, to help troubled financial institutions unload bad debt, the Washington Post reports. The figure is $200 billion higher than legislators were led to expect yesterday, and the national debt limit would be raised to $11.3 trillion. “It is a big package because it's a big problem,” said President Bush, who added that he abandoned his free-market impulses because of the risks involved for the financial system.
The streamlined proposal to Congress, not even 3 pages long, represents the biggest government bailout since the Great Depression. The $700 billion figure represents $2,000 for every man, woman, and child in the US, the New York Times notes. Meetings are underway on Capitol Hill between congressional and Treasury Department staffers to work out the details before an expected vote next week.