Warning “our entire economy is in danger”, US President George W Bush called unprecedented emergency talks for Thursday with the two men vying to succeed him, John McCain and Barack Obama.
Bush announced his summit with the presidential candidates and congressional leaders in a prime-time televised speech on Wednesday seeking public support for his $700-billion Wall Street rescue plan.
“We’re in the midst of a serious financial crisis”, Bush said in his 13-minute speech from the White House, after angry legislators on Capitol Hill declared the shock proposal dead on arrival.
“Without immediate action by Congress, America could slip into a financial panic,” the president said. “Ultimately, our country could experience a long and painful recession.”
Six weeks before the November 4 elections, and four months before he hands the battered US economy to a new president, Bush said inaction could wipe out banks, empty retirement nest eggs, send home values into freefall, and create millions of new jobless. “We must not let this happen,” he said.
Opinion polls show the US public is angry at Wall Street but deeply divided about a remedy, with many ready to blame Bush and his Republican party.