Activists Urge N.Y. Straphangers To Raise Voices Against Bailout

A grass-roots protest against the Bush administration's banking reform bill went underground this week - into the New York City subway system.

Continuing its campaign to relieve taxpayers of the burden of financing the savings and loan bailout, an activist coalition known as the Financial Democracy Campaign distributed leaflets in at least one Brooklyn, N.Y., subway station.

The leaflets were in the form of brown paper bags, printed with the slogans, "I Won't Be Left Holding the Bag" and "No Way I Pay for the S&L Scandal." People were invited to place a stamp on the bags and mail them to their congressmen.

The bag letter further states, "It's outrageous that President Bush's S&L plan asks us to bail out the rich and the speculators at a cost of $1 trillion plus - that's more than $14,000 from every family in America.

"I have pledged never to vote for anyone who supports bailing out the S&Ls and other financial firms on the back of average taxpayers," it continues. "Please let me know your intentions."

|Bailout Rock'

The Financial Democracy Campaign, which represents about 400 consumer groups nationwide, attracted national attention last February when it sponsored an appearance at the Resolution Trust Corp. in Washington by an Elvis Presley look-alike named "S&Lvis." He sang "Bailout Rock," a similar outcry about the cost of the crisis.

"S&Lvis" also showed up at NCNB Corp. headquarters in Charlotte, N.C., to protest its purchases and management of RTC assets.

Jim Hightower, a populist Democrat and former Texas commissioner of agriculture, became chairman of the Financial Democracy Campaign early this year. He said then that his principal goal was to impose a surtax on the most wealthy 1% to 3% of the population to finance the S&L bailout.

"To me, the proper place for this burden is on those who had the party and wrecked our financial house in the 1980s," Mr. Hightower said.

PHOTO : BAG IT: Flier protesting the bailout can be mailed to lawmakers.

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