Posted: March 27, 2008 12:35 PM
Obama Weighs In on Economy, Calls for Regulation
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, joined rivals Sen. Hillary Clinton and Sen. John McCain in making an address on the country’s current economic crisis, recommending Thursday that tougher regulations be imposed on financial institutions and urging relief for struggling homeowners.
Speaking at Cooper Union in lower Manhattan, Obama, who was introduced by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, began with a historical analysis of the country’s economic ups and downs, then blamed archaic policies and the Bush administration for the current financial crunch.
“The policies of the Bush Administration threw the economy further out of balance,” he said, providing examples such as “tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans” and “a trillion dollar war in Iraq that didn’t need to be fought, paid for with deficit spending and borrowing from foreign creditors like China.”
The Illinois senator laid out an economic plan that involved several steps, including increasing government oversight and regulation over lenders and borrowers, and cracking “down on trading activity that crosses the line to market manipulation.” He also proposed a major stimulus package to “jumpstart” the economy, similar to the stimulus package that was approved by Congress earlier this year.
According to the Reuters, Obama aides said the stimulus package would be worth $30 billion.
“In its budget blueprint for next year, the Senate has approved a second stimulus program that would cost about $35 billion,” Reuters reported. “The House of Representatives’ budget plan does not have that provision. The two chambers must work out their differences before finishing the fiscal 2009 budget.”
Sen. McCain’s team launched an attack on the Obama speech before it was delivered. “No amount of rhetoric can hide Senator Obama’s clear record of embracing the liberal tax and spend, big government policies that hit hardworking American families at a time when they’re most vulnerable, and are certain to move America backward,” McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds said in a statement.
In his address, Obama criticized McCain’s proposal made Tuesday, which warns against hasty government bailouts for irresponsible lenders and borrowers. Obama charged McCain’s plan “amounts to little more than watching this crisis happen,” and expressed his support of legislation proposed by Congressman Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, and Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd.
Sen. Clinton, who spoke Monday in Philadelphia, also supported the Frank-Dodd legislation, which provides up to $400 billion in government insurance on refinancing loans.
Clinton’s camp offered their own opinions about Obama’s economy speech, saying, “Presidents have to do more than announce principles,” in a statement by campaign policy director Neera Tanden. “At a time of crisis in our financial markets, Senator Obama announced a series of broad, vague principles, while offering no new concrete solutions to provide Americans with greater confidence in the market or keep them in their homes.”
Clinton kicked off a six-day “Solutions for the American Economy” tour Thursday, beginning in North Carolina with planned campaign stops throughout the Tar Heel State, Indiana and Pennsylvania over the coming days. Pennsylvania holds its primary on April 22, and voters Indiana and North Carolina head to the polls May 6.