Diary

Obama Meanders Through Wall Street Crisis

How can anyone take Barack Obama seriously when he talks about the mess on Wall Street?

On Tuesday of this week, Barack Obama mocked John McCain for suggesting a commission to recommend financial reforms, and instead said that he had the answer. He said that all it took was strong leadership to solve the crisis:

Just today, Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book – you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem. But here’s the thing – this isn’t 9/11. We know how we got into this mess. What we need now is leadership that gets us out. I’ll provide it, John McCain won’t, and that’s the choice for the American people in this election.

History shows us that there is no substitute for presidential leadership in a time of economic crisis. FDR and Harry Truman didn’t put their heads in the sand, or hand accountability over to a Commission. Bill Clinton didn’t put off hard choices. They led, and that’s what I will do. My priority as President will be the stability of the American economy and the prosperity of the American people. And I will make sure that our response focuses on middle class Americans – not the companies that created the problem.

To get out of this crisis – and to ensure that we are not doomed to repeat a cycle of bubble and bust again and again – we must take immediate measures to create jobs and continue to address the housing crisis; we must build a 21st century regulatory framework, and we must pursue a bold opportunity agenda that creates new jobs and grows the American economy.

Yesterday, Obama attacked McCain for asserting that he (Obama) did not support the bailout being engineered by the Treasury and Federal Reserve. When Jonathan Martin reported that Obama backed the bailout, he was quickly corrected by Obama’s staff:

To recap, when I wrote earlier today that Obama supported the bailout, I quickly was instructed by his staff that this was not the case. He just didn’t oppose it, I was told.

Now he’s so adamant about not opposing the Fed’s move that he’s complaining about McCain’s portrayal.

Where, I wonder, is the line between not opposing and, ya know, supporting.

Today Obama finally made clear that he does in fact, support the bailout:

Calling the market upheaval one of the most serious in the nation’s history, Barack Obama said Friday that the Treasury and the Federal Reserve must receive “as broad authority as necessary” to restore stability to the financial system.

Following a meeting with economic advisers here, Obama said he supports efforts by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Benjamin Bernanke to work with Congress on a rescue plan…

He declined to issue his own detailed plan for the financial markets until he reviewed the plan proposed by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve…

Instead, he laid out four principles [Editor’s note: two fewer principles than on Tuesday]: That the rescue plan help “Main Street” as well as Wall Street; that it be fair, and not reward particular companies or individuals; that it be structured to be temporary and have a “process to restore private sector assets to private sector hands after restoring stability to the system”; and that it be coordinated internationally.

At least he’s no longer voting ‘present’ on the bailout.