Congress should pass the financial bailout legislation as soon as possible, former Democratic President Jimmy Carter wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders Wednesday.

"The bill before you is an improvement over the original proposal from the Administration and has benefited from good ideas on both sides of the aisle," Carter wrote to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry ReidHarry Mason ReidThe Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary Bottom Line Lobbying world MORE (D-Nev.), House Minority Leader John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerFrom learning on his feet to policy director Is Congress retrievable? Boehner reveals portrait done by George W. Bush MORE (R-Ohio), and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy On The Money: Trump asks Supreme Court to block Dem subpoena for financial records | Kudlow 'very optimistic' for new NAFTA deal | House passes Ex-Im Bank bill opposed by Trump, McConnell Top House Democrats ask for review of DHS appointments MORE (R-Ky.).

Carter said he did not think the bill represents a windfall for Wall Street, saying in the letter that he would not endorse the assistance legislation if he thought that were the case. "No one is more firmly opposed to rewarding irresponsibility on Wall Street than I am," Carter wrote. "But as a former small business owner and a former President of the United States, I know the importance of the free flow of credit at reasonable rates to make our economy run smoothly."

ADVERTISEMENT
Carter urged bipartisan cooperation on further action on the bill; the Senate will vote on their slightly modified version of the bailout legislation this evening.

Read the letter after the jump.

-Michael O'Brien


To Congressional Leaders

I urge both houses of Congress to pass the economic rescue bill that is now before the Congress as soon as possible. It is critically important to unfreezing our credit market, jumpstarting our weakening economy, and to restoring confidence in international financial markets in the capacity of the U.S. government to deal with the credit crisis we face.

The bill before you is an improvement over the original proposal from the Administration and has benefited from good ideas on both sides of the aisle. In particular, the bill now contains robust mechanisms for oversight and accountability in the implementation of the program; mechanisms like warrants to the government in the financial firms whose bad assets would be purchased, which will reduce the cost to the taxpayer and assure some return when the value of these firms improves and other mechanisms which can reduce the overall cost of the program. This is a bill which people of good conscience in both parties can support.

Many have characterized this bill as a bail out to benefit Wall Street. If that were the case, I could not endorse it. No one is more firmly opposed to rewarding irresponsibility on Wall Street than I am. But as a former small business owner and a former President of the United States , I know the importance of the free flow of credit at reasonable rates to make our economy run smoothly. The real beneficiaries of the passage of this bill are small business owners, American workers, and families in towns across our country.

These are the people who depend upon credit every day, credit which is drying up and becoming more costly with each day this bill does not pass-hardworking single parents who need a loan to buy a used car; family business owners who need a loan to buy an essential piece of equipment or to expand their enterprise; young people in need for financial aid so they can realize their dream of going to college. It is these people, not Wall Street bankers, who will be the people most hurt if Congress fails to pass this bill. And it is with their interests in mind, that I urge Congress to complete work on this rescue package as soon as possible.

There are a myriad of explanations of how we have reached this financial crisis. But now is not the time for partisanship, but for bipartisan cooperation to help solve the problem, and get capital markets back to normal for the benefit of all Americans and for the global economy. We need bipartisan action to create confidence in our financial system, and we need that action now.

Thank you and best wishes,
Sincerely,
Cc: VIA FACSIMILE
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi
The Honorable John Boehner
The Honorable Harry Reid
The Honorable Mitch McConnell