16 September 2008
Both presidential candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain have seized on the U.S. financial crisis to try to make their case to voters on who can best turn the economy around. As VOA Correspondent Cindy Saine reports from Washington, Senator McCain found himself on the defensive for remarks he made Monday saying "the fundamentals of the economy are strong."
Barack Obama has had a couple of rough weeks on the campaign trail, with his rival John McCain surging in the polls amid broad fascination with McCain's pick for vice president, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. But speaking at a rally in Golden, Colorado, Obama seemed to sense a "golden" opportunity to paint his rival as out of touch on the economy.
"We are in the most serious financial crisis in generations," he said. "Yet, Senator McCain stood up yesterday and said that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. Now, a few hours later his campaign sent him back out to clean up his remarks."
McCain appeared on several morning television shows Tuesday, saying there is indeed a financial crisis, and that to better understand it the United States should create an independent, high-level commission to study what caused it, similar to the September 11th Commission on the terrorist attacks.
Obama dismissed the commission idea, saying "we know how we got into this mess." The Democratic nominee lays the blame squarely on the Republican Party's philosophy of deregulation and what he describes as "trickle down" economic policies that he says benefit the wealthiest Americans and big corporations, while doing nothing for the struggling middle-class.
For his part, McCain took a more populist approach than he has in the past in describing the roots of the current crisis. Speaking in Tampa, Florida, McCain said he and his running mate are the true reformers.
"We are going to put an end to the reckless conduct, corruption, and unbridled greed that have caused a crisis on Wall Street," he said. "We are going to put a stop to it."
McCain also joined Obama in calling for tougher government regulation of Wall Street.
"People have a right to know when their jobs, pensions, investments and our whole economy are being put at risk by the recklessness of Wall Street and under my reforms for the financial sector, that fundamental right will be and must be protected," he said.
Obama questioned McCain's sudden embrace of tougher government regulation of Wall Street institutions.
"Make no mistake, my opponent is running for four more years of policies that will throw the economy further out of balance," he said. "His outrage at Wall Street would be more convincing if wasn't offering them more tax cuts."
McCain' campaign says that his proposals to cut taxes on investors and businesses and to expand trade will boost the economy, while Obama's proposals to raise taxes on top earners and corporations will hurt the economy.