Democratic hopeful Barack Obama on Wednesday dismissed Republican White House candidate John McCain’s economic plan as an insult, which left homeowners to face a mortgage crunch alone.
In his first campaign appearance since a short vacation, Obama fired a new volley at the Arizona senator in a battle sure to intensify if he beats Hillary Clinton to the Democratic presidential nomination.
His remarks were a taste of a full-bore attack on McCain his aides have promised in a major speech on the economy set for Thursday in New York.
”John McCain has said that he doesn’t understand the economy as well as he should, and yesterday [Tuesday] he proved it in the speech he gave about the housing crisis,” Obama, said in North Carolina.
”He said that the best way for us to address the fact that millions of Americans are losing their homes is to just sit back and watch it happen.
”We’ve been down this road before. It’s the road that George Bush has taken for the last eight years,” Obama said.
”Whether the rest of America is struggling with rising tuition or skyrocketing healthcare costs, plant closings or crumbling schools, the answer is always the same: ‘You’re on your own’.”
The McCain campaign appeared keen to take up the battle with Obama, accusing him of stooping to ”attack and smear” tactics at odds with his vow to cleanse Washington’s gridlocked politics.
”Barack Obama’s diagnosis for our housing market is clearly that Barack Obama knows best — raise taxes on hard-working Americans and give the government a prescription to spend,” said McCain spokesperson Tucker Bounds.
”John McCain has called for an immediate and balanced approach to provide transparency and accountability in an effort to help homeowners who are hurting, while Barack Obama has made a $10-billion election-year promise that is sure to raise taxes and handcuff an already struggling economy.”
McCain’s own speech on Tuesday, on an issue shaping up as a dominant general election concern, was seen as an attempt to shore up his flank on a perceived area of weakness.
The Republican senator promised to look at any potential solution to the housing crisis, which is threatening to tip the US economy into recession, but balked at government bailouts for mortgage firms and foreclosed homeowners.
”Government assistance to the banking system should be based solely on preventing systemic risk that would endanger the entire financial system and the economy,” McCain said.
”Any assistance must be temporary and must not reward people who were irresponsible at the expense of those who weren’t,” he said in the speech in California.
Clinton laid out her own economic plans in a speech earlier this week, as she attempts to outpace Obama, ahead of their next nominating clash, the Pennsylvania primary on April 22.
She called on President Bush to appoint former Federal Reserve chiefs Alan Greenspan and Paul Volcker, and ex-Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, to a bipartisan panel to report on the depth of the crisis within three weeks.
”It’s now time for equally aggressive action to help families avoid foreclosure and keep communities across this country from spiralling into recession,” she said in the speech in Philadelphia.
Clinton’s plan demands action to help homeowners restructure mortgages, remove legal curbs for lenders keen to relax loan terms and calls for a $30-billion stimulus package to help states fight foreclosures.
Obama has called for a crackdown on unscrupulous lenders, a fund to help homeowners restructure mortgages and new tax credits. — AFP