Mr. Speaker, they tell us that we're going to have financial Armageddon and the answer is to bail it out. You know, the phrase ``bailout'' is an interesting term. Having spent most of my life as a judge and a prosecutor in the criminal justice system, we used that term to bail somebody out of jail. Bail them out of a mess that they have created and somebody else pays the price. Appropriate term I think for the situation we're in now.

   We want to bail somebody out of making mistakes, the rest of us are going to have to pay for. And the bailout now we're talking about is bailing out the financial institutions, financial institutions that are incompetent, that made bad judgment calls, mismanagement, bad risk, and maybe a little corruption to boot. But yet those people, those fat cats on Wall Street, New York City, expect America to pick up the pieces, and they pay for the mistakes that these people made. That is not, Mr. Speaker, the American way.

   In this country and where I come from, we are all responsible for the decisions we make, and we're held accountable. We cannot expect somebody else to be held accountable for the mistakes we made, and Mr. Speaker, the same ought to apply to Wall Street and New York City.

   Now, bailout's been a term we've been using in Congress the whole year. I have this poster over here. Mr. Speaker, it's entitled, ``It's a sad time to be an American taxpayer,'' and here's the reason. This Congress and the government has authorized bailouts already this year for troubled financial institutions and expected somebody else to pay.

   First, it was Bear Stearns' bailout. Oh, that was just $28 billion. Right after Bear Stearns came the old Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout, another situation of financial mismanagement, incompetence, maybe corruption. That was only $200 billion. Taxpayers paid. The responsible people did not pay. And then the AIG bailout just a couple of weeks ago. That was $85 billion to bail out that financial giant from making bad decisions, mismanagement, maybe corruption. And today, today, lo and behold we bailed out the automobile industry in the United States to the tune of $25 billion.

   But we're not through, Mr. Speaker. Now they tell us, because of a financial crisis on Wall Street, we need to pay $700 billion to fix the system. Now, what does all that mean? That means it's $1 trillion of money belonging to people in the United States to have to pay for all of this mismanagement. What does that mean? Well, if you take every man, woman, child and even illegal in the United States, that means they've got to pay $3,000 apiece for this mess somebody else created.

   Mr. Speaker, that ought not to be. That certainly is not the American way. But yet we're expected to do it, and why, Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure. It seems to me that maybe these folks have a little more political clout than the average American citizen.

   The district I represent down in southeast Texas, it's about 60, 70 percent blue collar. City councilman from Bay Town, Texas, is a friend of mine. He's named Sammy Mahon. His real job, he runs a wrecker service in southeast Texas. Yes, city councilmen in southeast Texas are wrecker drivers. And he has a hard time making ends meet because of the cost of diesel fuel, which is another issue. But he looks at it kind of the way I think most Americans. He says, Congressman, if I go out of business for whatever reason, I shouldn't expect my neighbor to pay for my business. And he's right, because he's just a little guy.

   But these big guys, they expect us to pay for mismanagement. Hold us ransom. Pay this $700 billion in ransom, and it's all because of incompetence and mismanagement.

   Responsible Americans have to pay for irresponsible conduct by the others. That ought not to be.

   And this didn't happen universally to all banks. Some banks, small banks, community banks, they didn't make these mistakes. They didn't take those risky loans, give loans and money to people who had no business borrowing money in the first place. Why should we bail out those people that took those loans knowing they couldn't pay them back? Why should we bail out the banks who didn't take that risk but passed it on to the rest of us?

   They tell us, Mr. Speaker, that we must act now or the sky will fall or we'll have financial Armageddon. I think not. The politics of fear is certainly not the answer.

   You know, we have spent more time as a Congress studying steroids in baseball than we have been studying the financial crisis this week. And why is that? Political clout. This ought not to be.

   We have a problem. We have a cause. We have to figure out the solution. We don't know the answer to those three, and Mr. Speaker, it's time we get busy and solve this problem but not expect somebody else to pay for the conduct and misconduct of others.

   And that's just the way it is.