THE CANDIDATES REACT TO WALL STREET…. Given the trauma on Wall Street this morning, it wasn’t too big a surprise to see both of the major-party presidential campaigns issue statements on the developments. The McCain campaign’s message, though, needs a little follow-up:
“It is essential for us to make sure that the U.S. remains the pre-eminent financial market of the world. This will be a highest priority of my Administration. In order to do this, major reform must be made in Washington and on Wall Street. We cannot tolerate a system that handicaps our markets and our banks and places at risk the savings of hard-working Americans and investors. The McCain-Palin Administration will replace the outdated and ineffective patchwork quilt of regulatory oversight in Washington and bring transparency and accountability to Wall Street.”
I’m not altogether sure what McCain is trying to say here. McCain thinks the “system” is handicapping the markets, but which “system” is he referring to? He sees the existing regulatory process as “outdated and ineffective,” but what does McCain propose in the way of reform — more regulation or less? TNR’s John Judis said McCain’s statement sounds like “1920s Republicanism — and exactly what one would expect from a candidate whose chief economic advisor was former Sen. Phil Gramm.”
Obama’s statement, perhaps not surprisingly, is clearer and goes further.
“The challenges facing our financial system today are more evidence that too many folks in Washington and on Wall Street weren’t minding the store. Eight years of policies that have shredded consumer protections, loosened oversight and regulation, and encouraged outsized bonuses to CEOs while ignoring middle-class Americans have brought us to the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.
“I certainly don’t fault Senator McCain for these problems, but I do fault the economic philosophy he subscribes to. It’s a philosophy we’ve had for the last eight years — one that says we should give more and more to those with the most and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else. It’s a philosophy that says even common-sense regulations are unnecessary and unwise, and one that says we should just stick our heads in the sand and ignore economic problems until they spiral into crises.
“Well now, instead of prosperity trickling down, the pain has trickled up â€“ from the struggles of hardworking Americans on Main Street to the largest firms of Wall Street…. This country can’t afford another four years of this failed philosophy. For years, I have consistently called for modernizing the rules of the road to suit a 21st century market â€“ rules that would protect American investors and consumers.”