Can Washington Contain the Mortgage Meltdown?

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First it was just defaults of sub-prime mortgages, but now the turmoil of a shaky housing industry is spreading throughout the credit markets and the stock market. Experts are asking if the national economy is in trouble because of those ripples. Last Friday President Bush stepped into the crisis by offering a plan that, he said, would help working families that had defaulted on their mortgages. The Congress is now considering new regulations to protect borrowers and to stem the rising tide of foreclosures. Is it all too late? Is a recession unavoidable? Is this just election politics or can Washington really help needy families without bailing out speculators and wealthy investors? Should the free market just be allowed to work?