John McCain got back to policy today, as events forced both campaigns to pay attention to the continuing and deepening crisis in the financial sector today. McCain lashed out at the “greed and corruption” on Wall Street and Washington in his town-hall appearance today, and promised real reform, but took care to note that the Ameirican spirit of entrepeneurship remained fundamentally sound:
I’d like to just mention a couple of things to you, and first of all a little straight talk. As you well know, we are seeing tremendous upheaval on Wall Street. The American economy is in a crisis. It is in a crisis. People tonight will be sitting around the kitchen table, trying to figure out how they’re going to stay in their homes, how they’re going to keep their jobs, how they’re going to put food on the table. And America is in a crisis today. Unemployment is on the rise, and our financial markets are in turmoil. People are concerned about our economic future. But let me say something, the economic crisis is not the fault of the American people.
Our workers are the most innovative, the hardest-working, the best-skilled, most productive, most competitive in the world. That’s the American worker. And my opponents may disagree, but those fundamentals — the American worker and their innovation, their entrepreneurship, the small business, those are the fundamentals of America, and I think they’re strong. But they are being threatened today. Those fundamentals are being threatened today because of the greed and corruption that some engaged in on Wall Street, and we have got to fix it. And we have got to reform the way that they do business. And frankly my friends, our workers have been the strength of our economy, and they remain the strength of our economy today. And those fundamentals are threatened, they are threatened and at risk because some on Wall Street have treated Wall Street like a casino. So, we’re going to fix it. And their efforts are not being matched at the top. From Washin gton to Wall Street, the top of our economy is broken.
We’ve seen self-interest, greed, irresponsibility, and corruption undermine these hardworking American people. We’re going to put an end to the abuses in Washington and on Wall Street that have resulted in a crisis that we are seeing unfold today.
Enough is enough. Enough is enough. We’re going to reform the way that Wall Street does business and put an end to the greed that has driven our markets into chaos. We’ll stop multimillion-dollar payouts to CEOs that have broken the public trust.
And we’ll put an end, as I said, to running Wall Street like a casino. We’ll make businesses work for the benefit of their shareholders and their employees, and we’ll make sure that your savings, IRAs, 401k and pensions are protected.
Barack Obama blamed the crisis on the management of the Bush administration, and it did occur on their watch, but the blame can get spread out to Congress as well. The cheap credit and lack of oversight occurred on the watch of both parties, with Senate Banking Committee chair Chris Dodd (D-CT) taking sweetheart loan deals from one of the major players in the collapse, as well as a few of his Democratic colleagues. It looks as if the lobbyists and big players co-opted all of the oversight mechanisms in Washington, and enough blame exists to share between Democrats and Republicans.
The candidate who comes up with an easily understood solution will win the confidence of voters unsettled by the instability. Fortunately, the markets reacted rationally today, at least thus far, understanding that the economy itself hasn’t been badly damaged — yet. The reaction by the government could do more harm than good, and apparently the markets have appreciated the laissez-faire attitude taken in regards to private companies that blow themselves up with bad risk-taking decisions.
McCain gets off to a good start, focusing his efforts on the lack of oversight enabled by the lobbying efforts from the financial sector. He continues to exude optimism and promises a robust effort to force players to stick to the rules. We need to hear more specifics, but what we don’t need are plans to take capital out of the system at a time when we need to reward honest risk-taking.
Palin also addressed this in Colorado today:
She gets a lot more specific about the reforms needed, and speaks with passion and conviction. Listen to the crowd response, and note the populist tone Palin uses to emphasize the need for reform. McCain should borrow a little from this.