Barring any unforeseen events, election 2008 will come down to the economy, the economy, and the economy. That’s not to say it should; there are other pressing issues to discuss, but good luck getting them some attention.
The best question of Tuesday night’s debate in Nashville came not from moderator Tom Brokaw but from a woman in the audience. “How can we trust either of you with our money, when both parties got us into this crisis?"
She’s right. Blaming either party alone is not accurate. Republicans hold responsibility for pushing for too much deregulation and too much deficit spending. Democrats hold blame for pushing mortgage programs that put families into homes they simply could not afford, especially when their adjustable interest rates ballooned.
“It’s true,” Obama conceded. “Nobody is completely innocent here.” Obama is backed by former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines, who was Bill Clinton’s budget director. The Bush Administration is backed by many from Goldman Sachs, including the current Treasury Secretary, as well as other Wall Street firms. Both organizations share in the blame, too.
It bothers me that no one in Washington, D.C., seemed to see this crisis coming, which begs the question: If they didn’t understand the problem, how can they possibly know the solution? Right now it’s a $700 billion dollar question.
The best question that actually came from Brokaw in this town hall format was when he asked each candidate whom they might appoint Secretary of the Treasury.
“I like Meg Whitman,” said John McCain of the E-Bay founder, “She knows how to create jobs.” Obama countered that Berkshire Hathaway investment guru Warren Buffet was under his consideration. “Warren would be a pretty good choice,” said Obama. I had long ago predicted each candidate would start naming cabinet members in advance of the election, and this might be the start of it.
Taxes were on everyone’s mind last night. Obama pledged that anyone making under $250,000 a year would have their taxes cut under his plan. McCain said, “Let’s not raise anyone’s taxes.” Whether either plan is feasible will be up to Congress and perhaps the overall state of the economy at the time.
Obama criticized McCain for saying that the fundamentals of the economy were strong, though - in fairness - McCain said that months ago, before the current crisis. McCain, noting that his proposed national energy policy would go a long way to help fix the economy, stated, “Nuclear power is safe and clean and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs. Senator Obama opposes that.” Obama, who favors very limited offshore oil drilling, countered, “We have 3 percent of the world’s oil supply, but we use 25 percent of the world’s oil. We can’t drill ourselves out of the problem.”
While we all wait and watch what the markets will do each day, it's well worth watching what the candidates might do about the economy, if elected. Right now it trumps all other issues in this campaign.
The final Presidential debate is next Wednesday at Hofstra University in New York. Until then, I will be writing daily about the campaign at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.