WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush on Wednesday warned Americans and lawmakers reluctant to pass a historic financial rescue plan that failing to act fast risks wiping out retirement savings, rising foreclosures, lost jobs, closed business and "a long and painful recession."
He spoke just after inviting Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, one of whom will inherit the mess in four months, and key congressional leaders to an extraordinary White House meeting Thursday to hammer out a compromise.
"Without immediate action by Congress, American could slip into a financial panic and a distressing scenario would unfold," Bush said in a prime-time address from the White House East Room that he hoped would help rescue his tough-sell bailout package.
Bush explicitly endorsed several of the changes that have been demanded in recent days from the right and left. But he warned that he would draw the line at regulations he determined would hamper economic growth.
"It should be enacted as soon as possible," the president said.