NEW YORK – The George W. Bush administration’s plan to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to rescue giant Wall Street firms from their current financial meltdown has unleashed a spontaneous wave of protests across the United States.

Protesters said they want the Congress to protect millions of U.S. citizens who are on the verge of losing their homes due to bad lending practices of creditors instead of doling out public money to big investment firms responsible for ruining the economy.

“People are up in arms about this,” Matt Holland of the, an advocacy group comprising 700,000 members that played a major role in organising the protests, told IPS. “Our members are livid. They’re hitting the streets.”

According to the group, thousands of people in more than 190 cities and towns across the country took part in demonstrations against the corporate bailout bill proposed by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson last Friday.

The four-page draft bill, which is currently under discussion on Capitol Hill, did not initially require any legal and financial measures to protect homeowners from possible foreclosures, nor did it put any limits on the salaries of the corporate executives — although legislators say that has since been amended.

On Thursday, Democratic and Republican lawmakers declared they were close to reaching a deal on a modified version of the bill, but still there was no indication if it would pass the Senate and the House.

“While many are focused on providing relief to the Wall Street, millions of homeowners are at risk of being left behind,” said Janet Murgula, president of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights group.

To Murgula, “it is irresponsible public policy to ask taxpayers to foot the bill for a Wall Street rescue package while simultaneously denying them a sustainable response to the devastation the rising foreclosures rate is having throughout the country.”

Independent presidential candidate and populist consumer advocate Ralph Nader agrees.

“The public outrage out there is really enormous,” he said in an interview with the left-wing television programme Democracy Now!, calling the Bush proposal “a double standard between the guys at the top and the people who are going to have to pay the bills.”

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