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9to5to9: Election Issues: It’s the economy again, stupid

Submitted by on Wednesday, 8 October 2008 2 Comments

Another day, another freefall on Wall Street after Fed Chairman Fred Bernanke dared to speak a version of the truth when he said the “outlook for economic growth has worsened..

I can say free-fall, can’t I? A paper I used to work at was criticized for using that word in a headline earlier this summer, when the situation was merely bad instead of desperate. It seems that 1,140 points in five trading days qualifies for free-fall status.

Free-fall or not, few outside the Bush administration would call this anything other than a crisis. “Outlook for economic growth has worsened?” Please.

I’m worried both short-term and long-term. I fear that a few more false moves will dig a hole my guys will be lucky to climb out of by the time they’re my age. What a legacy to leave our children.

So it’s no surprise that John McCain and Barack Obama were nine questions deep into tonight’s presidential debate before someone asked about something other than the economy.

What are you going to do about it, Sens. Obama and McCain?

Oh, and before you begin: I plugging my ears (but not my hair, because, as the witty McCain pointed out, that shouldn’t be covered under your average insurance policy) to any future infantile sniping about earmarks.

We have the Bridge to No Where vs. the Beau Coup Bucks Projector — though of the two, the projector has far more merit. Let’s call it a draw and move on. Earmarks account for less than 1 percent of the federal budget. Ranting about them might play well in Peoria — conveniently, there’s a Peoria in both Illinois and Arizona — but it’s not a real issue right now.


Obama’s talking points all along have included middle-class tax relief, green jobs, employment on government projects and the housing market. He mentioned all of those in tonight’s debate. You have to give him credit for consistency in the face of crisis.

He called the current economy the worse financial crisis since the Great Depression — hardly shocking news, though it’s refreshing to hear someone admit it.

“And I believe this is a final verdict on the failed economic policies of the last eight years, strongly promoted by President Bush and supported by Sen. McCain, that essentially said that we should strip away regulations, consumer protections, let the market run wild, and prosperity would rain down on all of us,” he said in Nashville.

“It hasn’t worked out that way. And so now we’ve got to take some decisive action.”

He wants to watch corporate executives to make sure they don’t rape taxpayers as the result of the recent federal bailout — can anyone say AIG?.

He wants to help homeowners not only by spreading the mortgage credit to taxpayers who don’t itemize, but also by trying to prevent a similar crisis from happening again.

He would create an official federal definition of mortgage fraud, making it easier to prosecute those with their hands in future cookie jars, and formulate an easy-to-understand mortgage disclosure for future homebuyers.

And speaking of arrangements that rape ordinary citizens, Obama wants to change bankruptcy laws that force homeowners to stick to the original terms of their mortgages even if the loan was predatory. Gee, it’s as if the banking industry saw the subprime crisis coming when this was written into bankruptcy law in 2005.

He would pour $25 billion into helping states avoid cutting health, education, housing and heating programs and a like amount to continue building and repairing roads and schools. The latter sounds a bit like the Works Progress Administration, but, hey, that got things going in 1935. But wait — we’re not in a depression now, are we?

What concerns me: How to pay for all of this. Obama’s right that some money’s available by closing gaping holes through which revenue rains on big companies.

The rest is a little vague to suit me, particularly since we just wrote a $700 billion check. Ending inefficiencies and wasteful spending will get you only so far. And I’ve already said I’m not going to listen to anything else about earmarks.


McCain said tonight that nailing down Obama’s tax policies is like trying to nail Jello to the wall — let’s hear it for original rhetoric. Maybe it’s a quote from his dear friend Joe Lieberman.

At least Obama’s consistent Jello. McCain’s more like policy ping pong.

On his Web site: “Priority number one is to keep well-meaning, deserving home owners who are facing foreclosure in their homes.

Apparently we’re dropping the moral qualifiers.

Tonight in Nashville: “I would order the secretary of the treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes — at the diminished value of those homes and let people be able to make those — be able to make those payments and stay in their homes.”

Sweet! The government — that’s you and me, folks — pays the banks and the little people get to keep their houses. It’s just populist enough to obscure the real motivation: another bank bailout at a huge government loss.

Here’s the one that really cracks me up, though:

On his Web site: “The McCain administration would reserve all savings from victory in the Iraq and Afghanistan operations in the fight against Islamic extremists for reducing the deficit. Since all their costs were financed with deficit spending, all their savings must go to deficit reduction.”

Sounds like a plan to me, to the tune of $10 billion a month savings. But do you have a timetable for that victory, Sen. McCain? Last I heard, you weren’t wild about deadline pressure.

As far as taxes, McCain said in Nashville that he doesn’t want to raise them for anybody. He doesn’t want to cut them for everybody, either.

His Web position paper focuses on cutting the corporate tax rate to “keep jobs in America” and holding steady the top income tax rate at 35 percent. His own campaign admits those movess would cost $400 billion a year, but it’s “essential to keeping good jobs in the United States.”

I can’t remember. Did trickle-down economics work the last time we tried it?

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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  • MountainMom said:

    Wow. You are darn good at this. Ever thought of running for office? Sheesh! If I wern’t such a staunch conservative I would say “Amen” but – I’m voting for “the other folks” so we’ll just have to be friends cuz we see the value in each other as decent human beings and darn good Moms! :-)

  • debra said:

    Wow. I must be good if I almost convinced you! :)

    You’re absolutely right in the last part of what you wrote, too. Yes, I have strong opinions — very strong opinions. And I know you do, too. But friends don’t have to agree on every little thing. It’d be a boring world if we did!

    I respect you even if you vote for the other folks, and I know you’ll respect me even if I vote for that one. Viva la difference, and let’s everyone come together where we can instead of letting the differences divide.