- 30 Sep 08, 05:16 AM GMT
Wall Street might be reeling from Congress's vote to reject the US government's $700bn financial rescue plan. But I was more interested in what Main Street thought.
To be specific, Main Street, Memphis, Tennessee. I could see that this stretch of downtown already had its own economic woes to contend with. Around me were fading storefronts and panhandlers asking for change.
But this seemed as good a place as any to ask voters how they felt about the failure of the bail-out.
Jennifer also went out to ask people for their views and this is what they told her:
Opinion polls have suggested that the public were strongly opposed to the package. Most people I spoke to, however, seemed resigned to losing out no matter which decision Congress made.
Denesa Segrest was clutching a copy of her mortgage agreement when I encountered her. The 47-year-old mother of two had her own financial crisis to worry about: she had missed the last two instalments on her home loan and was desperate to escape foreclosure.
Her eyes moistened as she told me how she was unable to sleep at night for worry. It was like losing a relative, she said. When she'd taken out her mortgage four-and-a-half years ago, her monthly loan payments had totalled $705. Now they were $1,150 - more than half her income.
At the same time, her husband had lost his job and she had had to pay for two operations. Recently, she had started working as a housing counsellor to help others avoid the traps into which she had fallen.
I took her to watch the bail-out vote as it came unfolded on TV. She sat impassively as the "no" tally reached 218. I asked whether she wanted Representatives to back the bill.
"We're damned if they do, damned if they don't," she replied quietly. "Everyone's going to be touched by it in some way."
But Jerry Lovett, 40, definitely wasn't happy that the vote had failed. His clothing store was struggling: he'd just had to lay off one of his three employees following a drop in sales.
This was normally his day off, but he'd opened up because he needed the business. Although a committed Republican, he was annoyed at the Congressmen and women who had rejected the proposals.
"I'm disappointed," he said. "Something needs to be done pretty quick. Doing nothing is not an option.
"What's sad is that Nancy Pelosi was on TV earlier saying that they'd struck a deal. But it looks like the same old political garbage took over."
Two doors down, Palestinian-born Rida Abu-Zaineh, 51, was fatalistic. He'd been running the Peanut Shoppe for the past 15 years. But he was worried how much longer it could stay open.
"Look at it," he gestured at his empty store. "Business is terrible."
He didn't know whether or not the bail-out would have helped him. But he didn't like the idea of his taxes acting as a safety net for failed Manhattan banks.
He had a message for John McCain and Barack Obama.
"Use the money they were going to spend in Wall Street and make the lives of blue-collar people better," he frowned.
"I'm not voting for either of them. They don't deserve my vote."
Until today, I'd been impressed with the level of political engagement among Americans. But as I left his store, I wondered how many citizens would come to the same conclusion as Rida before election day.
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