Election 2008

Obama economic plan, financial crisis, mccain economic plan
Jae C. Hong/AP
Democratic presidential candidate, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., speaks at the Seagate Convention
Centre in
Toledo, Ohio, Monday, Oct. 13, 2008. (AP)

Obama’s New Economic Plan Preempts McCain

October 14, 2008 02:00 PM
by Liz Colville
In a speech delivered Oct. 13, the Democratic presidential candidate outlined a detailed economic stimulus plan to help lessen the impact of the financial crisis on Americans, particularly the middle class.

Obama Plan Is ‘Temporary but Costly’

Sen. Obama’s speech, delivered to more than 3,000 people in Toledo, Ohio on Monday, declared that Americans would be allowed to borrow from their retirement savings without being taxed, that employers would receive $3,000 tax credits for each new employee hired, and that taxes on unemployment benefits would be eliminated, The New York Times reported. The plan also calls for doubling the federal loan guarantee to the auto industry to $50 billion; for the government to assist cities and states in need; and for there to be “a 90-day moratorium on most home foreclosures,” the Times wrote.

Sen. Obama’s new measures will cost an estimated $60 billion. According to AFP, these “latest proposals combined with previously announced policy measures would cost 175 billion dollars over two years.”

But will they work? “Economists can argue over the efficacy of Obama’s plans,” David Von Drehle writes in Time magazine, “but they had the advantage of being easily understood in a world full of mysterious catastrophes.”

In his Monday speech, Von Drehle suggests, Sen. McCain’s emphasis was seemingly on those mysterious catastrophes, but it did not present specific economic plans. Atlantic Monthly’s Marc Ambinder counters that McCain’s “fight” speech rather signaled a return to a more effective campaign direction after last week’s focus on Sen. Obama’s ties to William Ayers, which led to racist remarks by some McCain supporters.

Sen. McCain’s campaign said last weekend that it “would have no new proposals unless events warranted,” according to the Times. But it was reported Tuesday that Sen. McCain would be following his opponent, laying out his own plans Tuesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, changed tack over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times reported, from citing Sen. Obama’s past relationships to talking about energy and the economy. Palin, like Obama, was in Ohio, “where a new poll shows the candidates “essentially tied.” Palin drew attention to a McCain plan for the “suspension of laws requiring seniors to begin cashing out their retirement accounts when they turn 70 1/2.” The topic of discussion pleased some voters, the Times noted.

Opinion & Analysis: The economy and the final weeks

David Von Drehle argues that while Sen. Obama’s latest economic policy speech had some holes in it, they aren’t troubling in light of Sen. McCain’s “gloomy, harrowing” Monday speech, which followed a weekend of economic strategy sessions by the Republican candidate. Von Drehle gives McCain credit for trying to align Sen. Obama with congressional leaders Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). “Given how deeply unpopular Congress is,” McCain “trying to present himself as a positive vote for divided government makes sense.”

In the National Review, Thomas Sowell defends the McCain team’s “going negative” last week, remarking that Sen. Obama “gives speeches that sound so moderate, so nuanced, and so lofty that even some conservative Republicans go for them. How could anyone believe that such a man is the very opposite of what he claims to be—unless they check out the record of what he has actually done?”

Arianna Huffington acknowledged the McCain camp’s greatest strength Tuesday, suggesting that Obama should shift the discussion from the economic crisis to national security—“the one arrow left in McCain’s quiver.”

Atlantic Monthly’s Marc Ambinder argues that with Monday’s speech on the economic situation, McCain is “back in a groove, of sorts.” He reports that the McCain campaign has declared that, regardless of the particular topic, they will be “saving their best material for the last ten days of the race. When the urgency of the presidential election impresses itself, the hope is that these voters will swing back to the familiar, rather than the unknown. The last ten days, according to a McCain aide, are when the ‘imponderables’ come into play.”

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