WASHINGTON (AP) – Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke bluntly warned reluctant lawmakers Tuesday they risk a recession with higher unemployment and increased home foreclosures unless they act on the Bush administration’s $700 billion plan to bail out the financial industry.
Despite the warning, influential lawmakers in both parties demanded changes in the White House-backed proposal, and conservative Republicans recoiled at the prospect of federal intervention into private capital markets.
Six weeks before the elections, both major party presidential contenders also insisted on alterations in the administration’s prescription for the worst financial crisis in decades.
Bernanke’s remarks about the risk of recession came in response to a question from Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., who seemed eager to hear a strong rationale for lawmakers to act swiftly on the administration’s unprecedented request.
“The financial markets are in quite fragile condition and I think absent a plan they will get worse,” Bernanke said.
Ominously, he added, “I believe if the credit markets are not functioning, that jobs will be lost, that our credit rate will rise, more houses will be foreclosed upon, GDP will contract, that the economy will just not be able to recover in a normal, healthy way.”
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