An Economy for the People

John McCain’s campaign yesterday accused Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton of “mischaracterizing” McCain’s economic record and proposals.

Democrat presidential hopefuls Obama and Clinton both delivered key speeches Thursday on America’s economic woes, each proposing more government regulation and criticizing Republican presidential nominee McCain’s “lack of action.” 

McCain Advisor Carly Fiorina, the RNC Victory 2008 Chair and former Hewlett-Packard CEO, said McCain believes the “role of government is to help truly needy…[and] focus on reforms to ensure this kind of crisis never happens again.”

She said McCain aims to “improve transparency and accountability in our capital markets.”

Clinton and Obama offer proposals demanding transparency, competition and job training as well but their plans include tax increases and massive government intervention to carry the weight of the problem.

McCain has presented specific plans for an integrated job re-training program and market solutions, while Obama and Clinton put forth vague options that leave taxpayers vulnerable to blind government distribution of their money. Their plans are so similar, in fact, that the Clinton camp has accused Obama of “copying” their plan.

“When there are specifics [with Democrats], it’s usually money they are going to take out of the taxpayers pocket and transfer is some unspecified way, said Doug Holtz-Eakin, a McCain senior policy advisor.

Obama supports government-backed mortgage financing and a $30 billion stimulus package, which he hopes will rapidly improve the market. In his speech, Obama harped that McCain’s economic plan will become a “third-term” for the Bush administration and do little to change the coming recession. Clinton echoed the same sentiment.

“He’d rather ignore the credit crisis and the mortgage crisis — or blame middle-class families instead of offering solutions on their behalf,” Clinton said Thursday on the campaign trail in North Carolina.

While Clinton and Obama are quick to summon government rescue, McCain approaches the problem in an individual, market-based way that does not reward those who’ve made irresponsible decisions to the peril of the rest.

“In our effort to help deserving homeowners, no assistance should be given to speculators,” said McCain on Tuesday. “Any assistance must be temporary and must not reward people who were irresponsible at the expense of those who weren’t.”

Heritage Foundation Senior Policy Analyst Rea Hederman said John McCain has “probably the most clear vision of kind of what went wrong.” Hederman believes McCain will not “want to enact any policies that tries to prop up the bubble, that puts taxpayers on the hook for either risky lenders or risky borrowers.”

Holtz-Eakin and Fiorina both stressed McCain’s view that “government should be the actor of last resort, not the actor of first result.” They complied that McCain was wary of an “overlap and redundancy of regulatory authority,” though not opposed to sensible, limited regulation.

McCain has faced criticism since he commented last year that the economy was not his strongest suit but Fiorina classified the line as his “natural humility.”

“[He] has a lot more experience in his senate career in reflecting and acting on major economic issues than Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton,” said Fiorina.

Holtz –Eakin added that in Florida and other primary states, McCain polled well with voters on economic issues. He said McCain has “phenomenal respect for American workers” and believes “we owe them an effective government response — not a half dozen programs that don’t work.”

Obama and Clinton advocate the programs McCain despises. Yesterday on CNBC, Obama said he supports “FHA [to] step in to help stabilize the market.” He claimed it was not a “bailout for borrowers or lenders, but what it says is we will rework some of these loan packages so that they’re affordable.”

Both Democrats support the recent proposal by Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass.)and Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) that “would expand the government’s capacity to stand behind mortgages that are reworked on affordable terms.”

John McCain offers a different option on that front as well.

“Democrat candidates are ignoring the fact that John McCain has made a very specific call to members of the mortgage lending industry to step forward and help their customers,” said Fiorina. “….there is a role for government to help the truly needy, to prevent systemic economic risk….there is also a real role for industry because industry is part of the problem and they need to be part of the solution.”

Fiorina also said McCain supports more equity for homeowners and a better way to distinguish between speculating borrowers from people who are “cash strapped and credit worthy.”

“Senators Clinton and Obama’s messages of more government and higher taxes will lead to fewer homeowners and jobs, not resuscitate the economy,” said RNC spokesman Blair Latoff. “Taking money out of the hands of hard-working families and putting it into the hands of big government bureaucrats is neither helpful to American consumers nor healthy for the economy.”

The differences in these economic plans go back to the fundamental principles of conservatism versus big government liberalism. John McCain aims to put the power in the hands of the people while Obama and Clinton want to take it away.