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Senate passes bailout bill

The Senate passes a revised bill that adds tax cuts and other add-ons, in addition to the $700 billion financial rescue.

The Senate on Wednesday did what the House of Representatives failed to do on Monday--pass a bailout bill.

Nearly three-fourths of Senators passed the bill late Wednesday. The House is scheduled to take up the bill later this week, though it is expected to be a tougher fight there.

Meanwhile, the total cost of the bill went up significantly in that two-day period. That's because the bill passed by the Senate includes a variety of other measures, including billions in tax cuts, along with authorization for the Treasury department to take $700 billion off the books of financial institutions.

Among the other notable inclusions is a mental health parity bill that calls on companies that offer health insurance to cover mental health issues as they would other types of medical conditions.

A number of businesses, including Microsoft, have been calling on the House to reconsider its actions. CNET readers, not so much. According to our very unscientific poll, nearly two-thirds of readers thought the house was right to vote down the bill.

Once again, I put a lot of the blame for the unpopularity of the bailout on the way it has been described. I still think the consequences are not being talked about in ways that people can relate to.

I talked to a friend of mine who is in school. His student loans have been tied up for weeks. He thought it was a bureaucratic issue, but more and more it's looking like the lender isn't processing the loans for him or his classmates. We're seeing this reflected in other ways, such as car dealers who can't replenish their inventories (a new study says one in five may fail) and small businesses and start-ups that find themselves unable to get the capital they need.

We can and should debate whether we as a society take on too much debt and rely too heavily on credit. But I don't think we can afford to just turn off the spigot after running the tap at full blast for decades.

The New York Times also has a great piece showing how the credit crisis is harder to see--and giving the backstory on what's been happening behind closed doors.