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Business To Congress: Stop Messing Around

Two powerful business groups today sent strongly-worded letters to Capitol Hill insisting that lawmakers support the White House’s $700 billion financial market bailout plan.

“Whatever the cost of action, the cost of inaction will be significantly higher,” wrote Bruce Josten, executive vice president for government affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, K Street’s largest business federation.

“Make no mistake: Americans will not be tolerant of inaction that leads to calamity,” the letter says in closing.

The National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors sent its own letter to all members “to urge – in the strongest possible terms – that you act promptly to pass legislation currently being debated to stabilize the U.S. financial markets.”

“The urgency of the current situation demands quick bipartisan action and the setting aside of parochial interests of the scoring of short-term political points,” the association’s president and vice president wrote on behalf of their 40,000 members.

The sharp words could hit Republicans hardest, since they generally pride themselves on their pro-business credentials.

Another trade group, the Mortgage Bankers Association, sent letters focusing not on the need to pass the rescue – which the group supports – but the importance of not including a re-write of bankruptcy rules as part of the package.

The mortgage finance industry has been fighting Democratic efforts all year to pass legislation that would allow bankruptcy judges to reduce the value of distressed homeowners’ mortgages. The proposal has seen renewed interest since bailout negotiations began.