Posted: March 24, 2008 4:03 PM
Clinton Pushes for Expert Panel to Advise on Economy
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Hillary Clinton Monday unveiled her plan to battle the U.S. economic and housing crisis with a high-level panel of economics experts and possible action from the Federal Housing Administration.
Clinton spoke in Philadelphia as her campaign pushes for support ahead of the Pennsylvania primary vote on April 22.
In her speech, the New York senator stressed the severity of the country’s economic crisis, saying “our economy is in serious trouble.”
“We have a crisis of confidence in our economy,” she said at the University of Pennsylvania. “What started out as a subprime mortgage crisis has now become a national credit crisis, rippling out from banks and boardrooms to businesses and living rooms across America.”
Sen. Clinton’s plan would involve embracing legislation proposed by House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd that would provide government insurance for up to $400 billion in refinancing loans, rather than relying on the Federal Reserve to continue to make gradual interest rate cuts.
“The Frank-Dodd legislation would move beyond this incremental approach by setting up an auction system for mortgage companies that hold hundreds of thousands of these mortgages,” Clinton said.
Opponents of the Frank-Dodd proposal worry that not enough buyers and sellers will participate in an auction and the FHA will have to become a temporary purchaser in order to supplement the process.
On a conference call with reporters, the Clinton team said that while these are legitimate concerns, the economic crisis is too serious “to let ideology or fears of political demagoguing to keep every option off the table,” Clinton’s senior economy adviser, Gene Sperling, said.
Another key component of Clinton’s plan would involve pulling together a high-level panel of economics experts who can help expedite action by making recommendations to congress. This “Emergency Working Group on Foreclosures” would be lead by economic leaders like former Federal Reserve Chairmen Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker, and Former Clinton Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.
“It’s the kind of proactive step that would help re-establish confidence in our economy by showing that the president and the administration was taking our economic crisis seriously,” Clinton said of the bi-partisan working group.
Clinton closed the speech by relaying some anecdotes about buying her first home, the New York Times reported.
“We weren’t yet married, though not for lack of asking on Bill’s part,” Clinton said of the time before she moved into her first home in Arkansas. She remarked on liking a potential house — leading her husband, Bill Clinton, to go out and buy it.
“He said, ‘you better marry me because I couldn’t live in it myself,’” she said, according to the Times. “That fall we were married in the living room of that house. That first home meant the world to us, where we started a life together.”
Obama was not on the campaign trail Monday. His campaign manager, David Plouffe, told reporters in a phone call that Clinton is “the prohibitive favorite” in Pennsylvania. Obama, he said, would try to do “as well as we can there.”