Adams said it looks like the economic stimulus check he and other Americans received a few weeks ago will go back to the government to pay for the proposed bailout.
"I just got $1,700 in that rebate check," he said. "Now it looks like the federal government will be doing the 'rob Peter to pay Paul' thing and will be taking back the rebate money in the form of the higher taxes I'm sure will have to pay to cover the bailout."
Adams was one of several people giving the view from Main Street about the goings-on on Wall Street - and in Washington - Thursday morning. They were eating breakfast, sipping coffee or ordering food items at downtown establishments along Danville's main drag.
Most of the two dozen interviewees are working people. The majority said they felt no direct effects from the failure of the giant mortgage companies and investments firms that would be bailed out because they don't have any money in the stock market. Adams, one of the few who said they had money in the market, gave the thumbs down sign when asked how his stocks were doing.
However, they all acknowledged they would be affected by the proposed $700 billion bailout because all of that money would come from them and their fellow taxpayers. Most said they opposed the bailout, saying the well-paid CEOs of the firms to be saved by it should be forced to pay for their poor management.
"I don't have any of my money tied up in any stocks or other investments," said Don Martin, a welding shop owner from Hustonville, a customer at the Red Rooster Cafe on Main Street. "I keep all my money in the bank or put it back into my business, so I'm not feeling any direct hit from those big companies failing."
Martin said he was "not thrilled" with the bailout plan but indicated that he might favor if it only if it is considered to be the last resort in an effort to prevent a recession or worse.
"I feel the people who caused their companies' failures should be the people who pay for it or just let their companies go under like most owners of failed businesses have to do," he said. "But if the whole country would go into a recession, or even a depression without it (bailout), then I guess it should be done."
Problems with 'golden parachutes'
Bill Elliott of Danville, also a Red Rooster Cafe customer, knows something about the burden borne by taxpayers. He not only pays taxes but also worked for 36 years with the IRS before his retirement. He now is a tax consultant.
"It's a shame that the people responsible for their own companies' failures have been able to walk away with millions in their own pockets, leaving the taxpayers holding the bag," he said.
Elliott said the failure of firms that would be propped up by the bailout hasn't affected his own finances so far.
"The little bit I have in banks is protected by insurance, so I'm not that concerned about my financial situation at this point," he said. "But if this financial crisis widens and deepens and the banks go down like they did in the Great Depression, we'll all in be in the same sinking boat."
Tony Turpin, a home construction contractor from Hustonville who was sipping coffee, said the president and Congress should spend the money that would be used in the bailout to help people pay off mortgages.
"They don't need to be giving money to failed CEOs and their companies," he said. "I don't think we should reward these people for their mistakes.
"What they need to do is use that money to lower people's mortgage payments so people don't lose their homes to foreclosures," he said. "People I know have seen their mortgage payments jacked up from $700 to $1,500 a month."
Turpin has been affected by the downturn in the housing market. "Housing construction is going real slow now."
'They should pay for their own failures'
Valerie Crawford, an FKI employee from Danville who was buying some bakery items from Burke's, a Main Street institution, stongly opposes the bailout plan.
"When you bail out a few companies, then every investment and mortgage company will believe they're entitled to a bailout," she said. "None of them should be bailed out. They should pay for their own failures, not the taxpayers."